Thousands of patients in Greater Manchester are struggling to get a dental appointment

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Weeks after a local health watchdog revealed a surge in calls related to dental access issues in Greater Manchester, thousands of patients are still struggling to get an appointment.

The local dental system is operating at around 60% of its normal capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions. The reduction in capacity is contributing to growing backlogs and long waiting times.

Routine treatments are allowed but most dental teams are still working through urgent cases and prioritising emergency patients. The demand for treatment is also much higher than the supply, which means that even those with more severe dental problems may have to wait to see a dentist.

In some cases, practices are only able to see up to eight patients per day compared to around 25 per day before the pandemic. In Manchester alone, a backlog of 70,000 patients amassed between April 2020 and April 2021.

Health watchdogs in the North West have reported an uptick in calls from local people with dental issues and problems related to getting an appointment, and councillors have also highlighted the issue. Labour councillor, Zahid Hussein, said that his five-year-old daughter had been waiting to see an NHS dentist for two years despite the fact that private appointments were available immediately.

Numerous patients have also contacted councillors to express their disappointment and disbelief at having to travel long distances to see a dentist, with some forced to travel as far as Yorkshire.

Representatives from Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership confirmed that dental practices in Manchester were offering 115 urgent dental appointments per week. Dentists are under a huge amount of pressure and they are working under stringent restrictions brought in to try and limit the spread of Covid-19.

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