Too many families have difficulty accessing NHS dentists
Thornbury & Yate MP Luke Hall writes for the Voice
TOO many families have run into difficulty accessing NHS dental appointments and treatment over the past year.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted our health services in ways we could never have imagined. It is crucial that as we continue to recover from the pandemic, we do everything we can to return our dental services to pre-pandemic levels.
Our local dental practices are no exception: many families are having trouble accessing dental treatment, particularly patients living in Frampton Cotterell, Thornbury and Alveston, and Charfield.
I do however fully appreciate that this is a concern across South Gloucestershire, and there is a lot more to do.
As our local MP I have been I have been pushing government ministers to help us make more progress in South Gloucestershire. I have written again to the Minister for Primary Care and Patient Safety, highlighting this issue, and asking for further support for families in in our area.
I have raised the lack of availability in Parliament, and subsequently met with the minister personally to discuss our concerns.
There are some positive steps now being taken to improve the situation. The government will be investing an additional £50 million to urgently give more people access to high quality dental care. For the South West, this means we will see an allocation of an extra £4.7m.
The funding will secure up to 350,000 additional dental appointments for people in our community suffering from oral pain, disease and infections, to help them get the care they need.
Funding will be targeted at those most in need of urgent dental treatment.
Children will be prioritised, as will people with learning disabilities, autism, or severe mental health problems.
Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that anyone who does not have a dentist and has an urgent dental need can access an urgent dental appointment.
Patients in Bristol and South Gloucestershire should contact NHS 111 and request urgent dental care.
Anyone who does not think they are getting the treatment they need through the urgent dental system can also get in touch with NHS England’s Customer Care Centre, so their case can be investigated by calling 0300 311 22 33 or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone in our community deserves to have quick and efficient access to a dentist when they need one. But as a local resident and father of three, I know there is more to do.
I will keep pushing the Government to take all possible steps to restore dental services to pre-pandemic levels. As ever, if you want to raise a specific concern about dental access, please do not hesitate to get in touch.