17,000 new dentist places for Cumbria
Last updated at 11:44, Monday, 16 July 2012
A total of 17,000 new NHS dental places are being offered to patients currently on Cumbria’s waiting list.
It follows a £1.5m funding boost recently secured by the county’s health authority to improve dental care.
NHS Cumbria has now sent out over 17,000 letters to patients on the waiting list, offering them a chance to sign up with an NHS dentist.
The one-off funding grant was earmarked by the Department of Health back in March to help Cumbrians who have been on the county’s dental database for a long time. The cash has allowed more places to be secured at practices across the county who already offer NHS dentistry. Those who have been waiting the longest get priority.
The letter explains which dental surgeries across Cumbria currently have spaces and asks them to make contact with one of them to secure a place.
Many have already jumped at the chance to take up the offer.
However health bosses are warning that anyone sent a letter who does not make contact will be removed from the waiting list database.
Patients have three weeks to make contact with a chosen practice and should take their letter with them to their first dental appointment.
Those who receive a letter but decide not to take up the offer of an NHS dental place are being asked to share their reasons via an online survey.
NHS Cumbria says this will enable them to decide how best to allocate places in the future as local responsibilities for dentistry is changing.
Eric Rooney, NHS Cumbria’s dental public health consultant, said: “It’s great news that already so many people have been able to get an NHS dental place as a result of this extra funding.
“Thousands of letters have now been sent out to people across the county who have been waiting for an NHS dentist and soon they will all have been offered a place.
“It is important though if you've been sent a letter offering you a choice of NHS dentists that you don't wait until you're in dental pain to contact them, but do it right away so you don't miss out.”
However he added that, unfortunately, in some areas people may have to travel to receive their treatment.
“Improving access to NHS dentistry is something we’ve been working very hard on in Cumbria and we’ve invested in thousands of new places, but sometimes it is difficult to create extra provision in smaller areas as we are reliant on dentists having the space to do this,” he said.
“This means that in some areas people may have to travel a little further to access their NHS dentist.”
NHS Cumbria is also urging people to take other steps to keep their teeth and gums healthy, including brushing twice a day, eating healthily, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake, and establishing a good routine for children.
First published at 11:24, Monday, 16 July 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk