A report published by Healthwatch Shropshire shows 93% of people have had poor experiences of accessing NHS dental services across the county.
The local health champion asked people to tell them where they had found good access to NHS dental services and where they had found poor access.
The main findings showed that there was poor access to routine NHS dental services across Shropshire but this appears to be worse in some areas, particularly Oswestry and Market Drayton.
A lack of accurate information about whether there are dentists taking on NHS patients was also highlighted.
There is also confusion caused by the current approach to the issue of “registration”. There appears to be a widely held misconception that patients are registered with an NHS dental service in the same way that a patient registers with a GP practice.
Healthwatch Shropshire have shared their findings with the NHS and have been told that ‘NHS England and NHS Improvement – Midlands will continue to finalise its procurement plans to secure a new NHS dental practice in Oswestry and review access in other areas of Shropshire.’
Lynn Cawley, Chief Officer of Healthwatch Shropshire, said:
“We found that the problems of finding a dentist willing to treat patients under the NHS has impacted on all ages from toddlers through to the over 80s. People are reporting that the NHS service to help people find a dentist is very out of date and often it indicated that a practice was taking on NHS patients but when people rang the practice they found out it was not correct. In fact, when we last looked at an independent source of information it appears that there is only one practice taking on NHS patients in the Shropshire Local Authority area.
“Some people were also telling us that their dentist is no longer willing to treat them as NHS patients while offering them private treatment. It is clear that having been treated as an NHS patient does not mean guaranteed access to NHS dental appointments in future.”
The report and its recommendations can be found here.