Swindon mum raises concerns over access to dental care for disabled patients

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A mum from Swindon has raised concerns over access to NHS dental care for disabled patients.

Sarah Purnell, from Moredon, contacted the local press after her daughter, Caroline, was informed that she would have to wait to see a specialist dentist at the Great Western Hospital. Caroline has already been waiting for over 4 months, and Sarah believes that the system needs to be modified to enable patients with additional needs to get the treatment they need faster.

Speaking about the situation, which she described as “cruel,” Sarah said that people are being forced to wait around 6 months to see a dentist, purely because they need to see a specialist. Most people would be able to get treatment within a couple of weeks, especially if they needed urgent care, but the provision for disabled patients simply isn’t there.

Sarah’s daughter, Caroline, is 35 and she has severe learning difficulties. She suffers from seizures on a regular basis and can’t speak. In February, Caroline saw a community dentist, and she has since been advised to undergo treatment. Due to Caroline’s disability, she can only have treatment under general anaesthetic. At the moment, community dentists refer patients to the hospital as part of a process, which Sarah feels is extremely time-consuming and inefficient. According to Sarah, the referral process takes longer than it needs to due to the necessity to fill in forms and make different appointments, and in addition, there simply aren’t enough clinics to cater for the demand for specialist treatment.

A spokesperson for the GWH said that appointments are provided in line with NHS England guidelines.

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