'Frequent complaints' over Hartlepool dentist and GP appointment system

Health bosses in Hartlepool have identified providing access to dentist and GP appointments as key areas to improve in the town.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 5:18 pm
Stephen Thomas

Healthwatch Hartlepool representatives, speaking at the latest meeting of the town’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said they receive frequent complaints over the two areas.

Stephen Thomas, from the Healthwatch group, said the message is coming through “loud and clear” from patients on the issues.

He said: “I think that issue around getting the GP appointment to start with, it’s such a barrier to many people within the town in accessing services when they need them in a timely manner.

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“I think whilst virtual appointments have worked for some, they don’t work for all.”

He acknowledged the issue, along with dentistry care, is currently a wider national problem.

He continued: “The thing that we get more than anything else is problems people are experiencing in obtaining dentistry services.

“If a person has moved from another area into the town, they are finding it virtually impossible to access a dentist.”

Karen Hawkins, from Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group, responded noting the pandemic has impacted both areas, adding: “The demand for GP appointments generally for practices has gone beyond what it was pre-pandemic.

“It is a particular challenge as we move into the winter period but the practices are committed and remain committed to remaining open.”

She added access to dental appointments had also been an issue pre-pandemic although emergency treatment has been and remains available through the 111 service.

She said: “We are awaiting an update in relation to dental care and the next steps in how we return to pre-pandemic levels of care.”