Dentist and GP warn that local services are now at a 'tipping point'

By Ed Barnes

9th Feb 2023 | Local News

Credit: Rgerbe, Pixabay
Credit: Rgerbe, Pixabay

A dentist has warned services are at a "tipping point" after a critical report showed people are unable to get appointments.

Findings by Healthwatch Wirral revealed the public's frustration at being able to secure an NHS dentist but also members of the public said there was a lack of access to GP services too.

The organisation seeks to "give all local people a powerful voice" when it comes to addressing issues in the NHS.

Patients complained of dentist appointments being cancelled, long waiting times or not being able to get a dentist at all. For GPs, patients "felt dismissed" and "didn't get any help."

The report added: "We continue to receive multiple calls from those who cannot access a dentist, including difficulties accessing emergency dentistry" adding that "the main theme around GP access this quarter continues to be long waiting times on the phone or being unable to contact a GP at all."

Dentist Dr Stephen Wright said: "It saddens me to see that 100% of the complaints in the report about dentistry were about access but really it reflects what's happened in dentistry over the last 20 years."

"We have got a perfect storm really. We got an underfunded service that year on year has failed to deliver the uplift in expenses that are necessary to maintain a service to the level we would £1bn nationally to take us back to where we were 15 years ago."

Dr Wright made the remarks at a Wirral Place Based Partnership Board meeting which oversees how health and social care is provided in the borough.

He said problems with contracts and ring fenced money going to dentistry being lifted meant less support was being given to dentists to provide care as the money could be used elsewhere.

Dr Wright said dentists were facing staffing shortages, adding: "Unless there is radical reform, I think we are at a tipping point here" and warned "unless there is a big change, it is going to get worse."

He said practices were currently behind targets due to being unable to afford to treat NHS patients. This is despite demand for NHS dentist appointments being higher due to the pandemic.

Dr Abel Adegoke, a GP, said the demand for services had soared and 14 hour shifts were a "typical day" for him. He said: "The capacity is full. It is just what we have now. It's just what we have and unfortunately we are losing GPs rapidly, even staff like receptionists are leaving because it is just too much."

He asked for the issues GP practices were facing to be fed back to patients.

     

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