Healthwatch Cumbria needs to hear from people in Copeland who are not registered with an NHS dentist as a shortfall of thousands is reported in the area.
The dental practice in Cleator Moor closed in 2016 and, since then, only about 70 per cent of its NHS patients have been provided for – at practices between four and 30 miles away. Even now there is still a shortfall of thousands of NHS dental places in the area.
Copeland has significantly higher rates of tooth decay in small children than the rest of the country and the lack of NHS dental care in the area also creates issues for those who are unable to travel or have special dental needs.
Thanks to contacts in the community, Healthwatch Cumbria is helping to come up with a solution, bringing representatives together from the public, health professionals and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to bring sustainable dental provision to West Cumbria.
To help them highlight the problems faced by members of the public, Healthwatch Cumbria needs to hear the experiences of people in Copeland who are not registered with an NHS dentist.
They will use the first-hand experiences to raise these issues with the people who commission dental services and shape policy at the highest level.
Kate Rees, Healthwatch Cumbria engagement officer said: “We are looking to hear from people who have struggled to get NHS dental treatment because they are not on a dental practice list of patients.
“We also want to speak to people who have had to travel many miles to visit an NHS dentist because they are unable to register with one near where they live. We need people to come forward and tell us their experiences.
“Real people’s accounts will make those who commission NHS services and shape policy realise how bad the situation is for people in Copeland.”
It is important to emphasise that we are looking to speak to people who do not have an NHS dentist, not people who have been unable to get dental treatment because of the pandemic.
Healthwatch Cumbria has a short questionnaire for people in Cleator Moor who are not registered with an NHS dentist to complete.
The information gathered as part of the survey and case studies is confidential. The analysis of responses will be brought together in a report, which will not contain any personal identifiable information.