Peterborough dental patients face a struggle to get an NHS appointment

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Dental patients in Peterborough are struggling to get an NHS appointment, new research confirms.

A new report compiled by Healthwatch Peterborough found that patients living in the town are much more likely to experience difficulties seeing an NHS dentist than patients looking for services in nearby Cambridge.

According to members of the Healthwatch Peterborough board, people are finding it so hard to get an appointment for routine and urgent dental care in Peterborough that they are relying on dental access centres, which are designed to cater only for patients who require emergency treatment. Caroline Tyrrell-Jones, communities programme manager, explained that people are left with no option but to visit the access centres, which are having to turn an increasing number of patients away.

Researchers from Healthwatch Peterborough visited access centres in Peterborough and Wisbech a number of times during a three-month period in 2018. Of the 19 patients interviewed at the Peterborough facility, 8 said they would normally have gone to a high-street dentist, but they couldn’t get an appointment. Ten people said that they weren’t currently registered with a dentist. Two patients also admitted that they had been to A&E as a last resort.

Ms Tyrrell-Jones said that there was a shortage of dental services and dental professionals, which was making it increasingly difficult for patients to access both routine and urgent dental care. Research undertaken by the watchdog also revealed that patients are in the dark about appointment availability and the cost of NHS dental services.

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