'We’ve got people who are pulling their own teeth out' hears Tees Valley health meeting

Health chiefs are hoping new funding and research will help improve access to dentistry services in Hartlepool and across the region - but warned there remains “a long way to go”.

By Nic Marko
Friday, 28th January 2022, 4:49 pm

The Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Governing Body this week heard how steps are being taken to look at improving access to dentist services, which remains a key complaint by residents across the area.

Michelle Thompson, CCG lay member for patient and public involvement, told the body’s latest meeting that surveys have been carried out by healthwatch groups across the area on the issue, with intelligence now being analysed.

She also reacted to news NHS England is to provide a £50million fund nationally aiming to secure 350,000 extra dentists appointments through February and March to deal with the Covid-19 backlog.

A Tees Valley health meeting was told that people are literally pulling their own teeth out.

Mrs Thompson said she was “hopeful” the fund, which has around £8.5million earmarked for the North East and Yorkshire, would provide the extra NHS dental appointments,.

But she added there is still “a long way to go”.

She said: “We’ve got people who are pulling their own teeth out or people that have had no choice but to spend £1,600 on dental treatment, whereas on the NHS it would normally cost £80.

“There’s a lot of problems still out there, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction.”

A sample of dentists in each area have been contacted to get a “snapshot of the situation from their perspective”.

Mrs Thompson said: “There’s been huge frustration from many local people when trying to access an NHS dentist and this has been felt across the North East and North Cumbria.”

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