Fenland residents struggling to see a dentist amid staff shortages
Health campaigners in Fenland have raised concerns about access to local NHS dental services as residents face struggles to see a dentist.
Members of Healthwatch Cambridge and Healthwatch Peterborough have been contacted by patients who are finding it increasingly tough to make an appointment with an NHS dentist. According to a report compiled by the watchdogs, thousands of people in the area cannot access treatment due to a shortage of dentists.
As a result of problems getting appointments at high street dental practices, local dental access centres have been inundated, and they are having to turn patients away. In 2017/2018, more than 14,000 patients based in the area were sent away. Figures show that the highest numbers of patients unable to get treatment came from Peterborough and Wisbech. The statistics for 2017/2018 are worrying enough, but the local watchdogs have already said that numbers are expected to be significantly higher for 2018/2019.
Healthwatch investigations revealed that the vast majority of patients were happy with the service provided by local dental access centres, but they found it virtually impossible to get an appointment. The access centres are designed to provide urgent care, but 4 out of 5 patients interviewed by the patient groups said that they now use them routinely because they can’t get an appointment with a regular dentist.