More than 6,000 patients in North Lancashire are on a waiting list to register with an NHS dentist, whilst others are facing a long journey to get treatment due to high demand in the area. NHS England is now planning to open a new dental practice in Lancaster to try and get the problem under control.
However, some people living in Lancashire are becoming frustrated with the wait and there are several residents that have been waiting longer than a year to register with a clinic.
Jackie Forshaw, Head of Primary Care (Lancashire) at NHS England, said that the body had ‘identified pressure on existing services’ in the area and found that ‘approximately 4.5% of the resident population [are] currently seeking access to NHS Dental Services.’ Despite this demand, it is thought that 90% of respondents in a recent survey said that they successfully arranged an NHS dental appointment. She added that ‘All patients in Lancashire have access, within 24 hours, to immediate dental pain relief through the emergency dental services that operate seven days a week in daytime and evening.’
MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Eric Ollerenshaw, said that there are ‘issues’ with a previous contract from 2007 that is stopping negotiations for new NHS dentists in Lancashire ; he added that some dentists decided it would be easier to stay private in order to avoid ‘the endless form filling’ that comes with contract renegotiations.