CHILDREN may have to travel out of Bolton to have teeth removed — due to changes in theatre space at the Royal Bolton Hospital.
Dentists have condemned the move, claiming it will hit the most disadvantaged children the hardest.
Children needing a general anaesthetic for tooth extractions currently go to the eye theatres at the Royal Bolton Hospital.
But the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has announced plans to extend its eye and opthalmic services and in March, it gave NHS England six months notice to find another venue.
The notice period has now been extended by the trust until December — but next year, dentists may have to send young patients to Wigan, Leigh, Bury or Salford.
Peter Moss, chairman of Bolton Local Dental Committee, said: “It’s the trust’s right to do that but it is pretty poor.
“Our children will have to travel outside the borough.
“Bearing in mind tooth decay is linked to deprivation and poverty, it is the poorest that will have to travel to access the service.
“This is shocking because Bolton is among the worst in the country for rampant tooth decay.”
Bolton dentists say they only found out about the changes when a whistleblower voiced concerns.
Children’s dental services are commissioned by NHS England — and Bridgewater Community Healthcare Trust provides the paediatric general anaesthetic service in Bolton.
A spokesman for the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have been looking at extending our ophthalmic work and therefore in March gave Bridgewater six months notice that we would need our theatres.
“However after further discussions we have now said that Bridgewater can have an extension until December to provide services for children here. We will work with Bridgewater to see what arrangements can be put in place after that.”
A spokesman for NHS England, in Greater Manchester, added: “It is hoped that alternative theatres at the existing site will be made available and discussions between NHS England and Bolton Foundation Trust NHS about arrangements for the New Year and going forward are being held.
“Alternative options are being explored in order to ensure services for patients are uninterrupted.”
Mr Moss added: “There is the option of local anaesthetic combined with nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, but it is rare as there are not many providers in the area – there are only about two or three.
“Plus trying to administer a crying two year old with local anaesthetic is, as you can imagine, almost impossible to do.”