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.
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.”