Steps taken to ease problems in accessing Hartlepool dental services

Health chiefs have stressed steps are being taken to help address issues accessing dentistry services in Hartlepool and across the region.

Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body has this month heard how accessing dentist services is currently a key complaint by residents across the area.

It comes after Healthwatch Hartlepool representatives last month said the issue they hear about “more than anything else” is problems people experience in obtaining dentistry services.

Michelle Thompson, CCG lay member for patient and public involvement, told Wednesday’s governing body meeting it is a wide-reaching issue which organisations are working together on.

Problems accessing dental services in Hartlepool have been discussed.

She said: “Looking at Healthwatch updates right the way across the Tees Valley, they are all talking about NHS dentists and how difficult it has been for patients to access.

“Across the North East and North Cumbria it’s also a problem as well, and so the Healthwatch networks are actually looking further into the accessing of dentists.”

Karen Hawkins, CCG director of commissioning, strategy and delivery for primary care, said dental practices have faced “significant challenges” during the pandemic.

She said: “During the Covid pandemic dentists have had to comply with nationally mandated Covid-19 operating procedures, which have mandated the reduction in capacity available.

“That has resulted in a reduced number of appointments within dental practices locally.

“NHS England are working really closely with NHS dental providers to explore the opportunity around how we improve access while we’re still in the midst of a pandemic.”

She also stressed if patients cannot access their local dentist, emergency care can be provided via the 111 service.