New Healthwatch Swindon reports highlights dental access issues

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A new report compiled by Healthwatch Swindon has highlighted the growing severity of dental access issues in the town.

The most recent annual report suggests that a growing number of residents are struggling to see a dentist, including patients who are experiencing intense pain and ongoing dental issues.

The report documents the health and social care experiences of more than 1,200 local people. Dental access is one of the dominant themes of this year’s report, with large numbers of patients contacting the watchdog to raise concerns over limited access to dental services.

Most patients have been unable to see a dentist without travelling or paying to go private and many have been forced to join waiting lists.

The most common issues faced by dental patients in Swindon in the last year include problems with booking appointments, difficulty finding dental practices that are offering new NHS places, insufficient information provided on practice websites and clinics prioritising private patients.

Some people who contacted the watchdog reported such severe pain that they couldn’t eat and there were also reports of low self-esteem and depression linked to dental issues.

Representatives from Healthwatch Swindon have been researching practice availability and updating websites with information for patients and they are also feeding back reports and experiences to dental bodies in the South West.

The group attends regular meetings with the South West Dental Network and is eager to pass on concerns from patients and support calls for urgent action to be taken to enable more people to gain access to affordable dental services.

The situation in Swindon is similar to many parts of the country, where staff shortages and backlogs caused by the pandemic are making it extremely difficult for teams to cope with the demand for appointments.

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