Plymouth’s new dental taskforce meets for the first time as waiting list tops 21,000
Plymouth’s new dental taskforce has met for the first time, as waiting lists in the city top 21,000.
The dedicated taskforce was set up the Labour-run council in response to a deepening access crisis in the city, which has seen the number of residents waiting to see a dentist increase by over 12,000 in the last five years. It is estimated that there are now 22,000 people waiting for a dental appointment, which equates to a waiting time of over seven years.
Plymouth was an underserved area before the pandemic, but since the Covid outbreak, the situation has deteriorated rapidly. Thousands of patients, including Johnny Mercer MP, have lost their NHS dentists due to dentists leaving the service or practices switching to private care.
Head of the new taskforce, Mary Aspinall, Cabinet member for health and adult social care at Plymouth City Council, said that the taskforce was formed to try to identify and implement solutions to protect patients, particularly the most vulnerable. The first meeting was described as a ‘proactive step,’ with several options discussed to boost capacity and enable more patients to see a dentist close to home.
Ms Aspinall explained that one of the key factors the taskforce would be working on was improving collaboration and ensuring the best possible use of funding for local dental services. At the meeting on Friday July 7th, representatives from NHS Devon, Livewell Southwest and the Peninsula Dental School pledged to work together to create more NHS dental places. Plans include opening a new high street practice run by the dental school and allocating the funds previously targeted at a new health hub at Colin Campbell Court, which has now been shelved.
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