Cumbria dental patients report anxiety over NHS access issues

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A growing number of patients in Cumbria are raising concerns over access to NHS dental services.

As figures suggest a sharp slump in the provision of dental treatment since the start of the pandemic, more and more people in Cumbria are struggling to get an appointment with an NHS dentist.

Recent statistics provided by NHS Digital underlined the impact of practice closures and Covid-19 restrictions, with several areas across England experiencing up to a 70% decrease in the number of courses of treatment delivered.

Although urgent dental care has been available without disruption since December 2020, a spokesperson for NHS England North East and Yorkshire, which oversees NHS dental services in Cumbria, said that teams are dealing with significant backlogs caused by closures and capacity limits.

Patients across the county have reported issues, including practices going private and patients being removed from lists halfway through a course of treatment. One patient also said that they had been unable to see an NHS dentist 16 months after seeing an emergency dentist and being advised to undergo follow-up treatment.

The situation in Cumbria is similar to many parts of the UK, with dental practices operating at a reduced capacity to allow for social distancing and time between patients. Many teams are still having to prioritise urgent patients, which means that routine services are not widely available. There is also a waiting list for procedures and treatments in many areas, with staff shortages a contributing factor.

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