A health watchdog has hit out over “inequalities of access” to NHS dental services for people in Spalding and south Lincolnshire.
Heathwatch Lincolnshire received a number of phone calls after patients were informed by the NHS of the closure of the 1A Dental practice at Johnson Community Hospital, Spalding.
As reported in last week’s Spalding Guardian, 1A Dental will no longer provide NHS dental services there from August 31.
NHS England announced it had found a caretaker service to provide NHS dentistry at the hospital starting the following day, but a handover period means the service won’t be fully operational until mid-September”
Healthwatch Lincolnshire’s chief executive officer Sarah Fletcher, said: “Whilst it is acknowledged in the letter received by patients that they have the option to attend a dental surgery in Werrington, Peterborough, it is important to note that this would result in an approximate 20 mile journey (40 miles round trip).
“Many of the people who have contacted Healthwatch Lincolnshire have told them that they do not have their own transport to travel to Werrington.”
Di Pegg, head of primary care for NHS England in Lincolnshire, said: “We have identified Spalding as a priority area for new investment in NHS dental services in Lincolnshire. As a result, a new dental practice will be opening later this year to provide additional capacity.
“We are commissioning a caretaker provider to ensure services are maintained from the practice premises at Johnson Community Hospital from September and will provide an update on the new service provider in late August. We will be keeping the situation under review.”
1A Dental said it had not taken the closure decision lightly.
A spokesman told us: “It is as a result of ongoing running costs which have prevented the practice from operating sustainably.”
As previously reported, NHS England has commissioned a new NHS dental practice for Spalding, which is due to open in December and be run by Rodericks
That surgery will open 8am-8pm, seven days a week. No premises have been identified yet.
1A dental practice is working with NHS England to manage the practice closure and it is anticipated that all open courses of treatment will be completed by 31st August 2017.
• Healthwatch Lincolnshire says if you require assistance accessing NHS dental treatment, or if you wish to find an alternative dentist, please call them on 01205 820892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also call Lincolnshire Patient Liaison Services on 01529 222265. If you require urgent dental care please telephone 111 (free to landlines and mobiles and available 24 hours a day).
WHAT OUR READERS SAY ON THE SUBJECT ...
Penny Patrick told us: “We moved to Sutterton three-and-a-half years ago and really struggled to find an NHS dental practice.
“We went to one on the outskirts of Boston but unfortunately it was like a factory.
“The answer seemed to be ‘if you have a tooth problem we can take it out for you’.
“We now go to a private practice in Sleaford which is very good but they do not offer any NHS treatment and we can ill afford their prices.
“However it seems if you want to take care of your teeth you have to pay.
And we had this on Facebook from Jennifer Letts: “The service I have received from calling 111 at the weekend was useless.
“They directed me to Johnson (where I was sitting in), the staff at minor injuries directed me to the dental services on site but had no idea if they were open on Sunday or not. 111 had no idea if they were open or not.
“The only place I could get emergency treatment was in Boston. I’m very annoyed that having had teeth out at Peterborough they could offer no help either.”
• What do you think of NHS dental services in Spalding and south Lincolnshire? Please email email@example.com