A health watchdog is urging thousands of patients without an NHS dentist in Spalding to complain about the “appalling situation”.
Healthwatch Lincolnshire believes it will be a long time before NHS England recruits a caretaker service to continue 1A Dental’s routine work at Johnson Community Hospital – and longer still before a permanent replacement is found.
It is so important for people to speak out, as silence is often taken as acceptance.Sarah Fletcher, Healthwatch Lincolnshire
The lack of services is forcing many to travel to Peterborough or further afield.
Sarah Fletcher, chief executive officer with Healthwatch Lincolnshire, said: “Local people rally do need to share their frustrations, experiences and thoughts about getting an NHS dentist.
“It is so important for people to speak out, as silence is often taken as acceptance.
“The power of the public voice does make a real difference and we want to encourage Spalding and district residents to continue to raise their concerns.
“We guarantee that every comment will be shared directly with NHS England, and when we attend the Lincolnshire Dental Committee meetings to represent Lncolnshire people.”
Healthwatch also guarantees every comment is shared anonymously with patients’ details withheld.
1A Dental pulled out on August 31 but NHS England failed to launch its promised caretaker service the next day, and NHS dental patients suffered a second blow in mid-October when it was revealed Rodericks would not open a brand new surgery in December.
Healthwatch recently met NHS England to press for NHS dentists to be appointed.
Ms Fletcher said everyone attending expressed “real concerns with regards to the appalling situation” for patients needing an NHS dentist in Spalding but “the honest answer is this is not going to happen any time soon”.
One former 1A Dental patient at Johnson Community Hospital told us: “I’ve never been without a dentist which is a concern and I think it is unacceptable to be told I have to find a replacement dentist myself. The nearest dentist taking NHS patients is Peterborough, this is not practical for someone working in Spalding.”
Di Pegg, head of Primary Care for NHS England (Central Midlands), said: “We remain fully committed to ensuring that patients have access to NHS dental services in Spalding, and urgent care sessions to replace the service delivered by the previous provider are now in place at Johnson Community Hospital and selected local dental practices. We are also continuing to work towards finding a longer-term solution for routine dental care and will be updating patients in due course.”
• You can write to Healthwatch Lincolnshire, Unit 12, 1-2 North End, Swineshead, Lincolnshire PE20 3LR; email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.healthwatchlincolnshire.co.uk/contact/
If you are happy to have your letter published, please send it to editor Jeremy Ransome, Spalding Guardian, Priory House, The Crescent, Spalding PE11 1AB or email email@example.com. uk
Healthwatch says the best place to look for an NHS dentist is NHS Choices https://www.nhs.uk/pages/Home.aspx or call PALS on 0300 123 9553.