Five thousand people waiting to see dentist
9:15am Wednesday 18th July 2012 in Local
FIVE thousand people are unable to access an NHS dentist in Bolton — 3,000 more than just 18 months ago.
Health bosses scrapped a central waiting list in April and people must now contact their nearest NHS dental surgery for an appointment.
But thousands of people still do not have an NHS dentist and patients can expect at least a three-month wait for an appointment.
Since January, health chiefs have ploughed £50,000 into reducing Bolton’s waiting list, which then stood at 7,000 people, with an average waiting time of eight months.
Now the remaining 5,000 have been contacted by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which has taken over health services in the borough from NHS Bolton.
They were told to contact their local dentist to be added to individual lists. A recent report by the CCG placed access to NHS dentistry at “red risk”, meaning a poor standard.
Health chiefs claim scrapping a central waiting list is more efficient.
But Peter Moss, chairman of the Local Dental Committee in Bolton, said until government policy was changed, there would be dental problems in Bolton and the rest of the UK.
Mr Moss, who runs Moss Dental Care in Bury Road, Breightmet , said: “The waiting list had been running for some time and clearly wasn’t working.
“The fundamental problem is the government contract that was set in 2006 and that we will have until 2015.”
Mr Moss says the contract means there is a greater incentive for dentists to keep on existing patients rather than taking on new ones. He added: “The situation is completely and utterly ridiculous.”
As there is no longer an overall central waiting list for Bolton, anyone trying to get an appointment can go online to NHS Choices and type in their postcode, where they will see a list of NHS dentists.
An NHS Bolton spokesman said: “Since clearing the list, it was felt it would be more efficient for dentists to manage their own waiting lists in future, as this would facilitate faster patient access.
“It was also felt that, by allowing patients to contact a dentist of their choice directly, it would reduce the number of people who do not attend appointments after making them.
“One of the reasons for these people not attending was the additional level of bureaucracy that the waiting list caused under the previous system.”
The spokesman said more funding to improve access to services was available for the current financial year.
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