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Calls for more work to tackle lack of NHS dentists in Cornwall

dentist

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:52am 10th April 2019. (Updated at 9:49am 10th April 2019)

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Cornwall Council will be asked to back calls for more to be done to tackle the lack of NHS dentists in Cornwall with more than 48,000 people on the waiting list.

Independent councillor Loic Rich has tabled a motion to next week’s full council meeting calling for the council to take action over the NHS dental crisis.

The Truro councillor has support from members of different political groups in County Hall for his motion.

In it he suggests that the council’s community network panels could work with providers to see what can be done to improve the provision of NHS dental services.

Cllr Rich has also asked that the council work with Healthwatch Cornwall to assess the scale of the problem and to write to the secretary of state with possible solutions.

He said: “This is an issue that I have been aware of for a long time and it has been in the news recently with reports that people in Bodmin have been facing a round trip to Redruth to see an NHS dentist.

“I have also had people in my ward contact me about this and I have my own personal experience as well.

“We had a report from NHS England which set out their plan for Cornwall and was looking at dentistry but wasn’t really addressing the scale of the problem.

“It is important to do things outside the NHS to promote oral health but an NHS dentist is the best person to get advice on how to look after your teeth.

“In local schools children are now brushing their teeth in the classroom, which is great, but they need to be able to see a dentist as well.

“I think it is a really big problem. In Cornwall there is a specific issue in that I understand that dentists don’t want to work in Cornwall under NHS terms. I want the council and the NHS to look at that and what is behind it and what we can do to resolve it.”

Independent councillor Loic Rich

Cllr Rich said he did not just want the council to write a letter to the Government asking them to do something but wanted the council to come up with possible solutions and then ask for help in implementing them.

“Rather than just making a demand we need to find practical solutions so that people in Cornwall can get a dentist.”

There have recently been reports of people having to go to hospital with dental problems and even people taking matters into their own hands and carrying out their own dental treatment.

And Cllr Rich said he believes that while there have been well publicised cases in local newspapers and on local news websites there are probably more people affected than official figures show.

He said: “It seems that dental health is not something that many people talk about and unfortunately some people have just given up trying to get an NHS dentist.

“And some people have been forced to go private and are just carrying on with that. A lot of people are paying tax for something they don’t get and that is fundamentally wrong.”

Cllr Rich said he had already been contacted by a number of councillors who back his motion and he hoped to get cross-party support.

“I hope that people will support this and I hope there will be a good debate with people coming up with ideas and also sharing anecdotes about the problem.”

The motion will be debated at the full council meeting on Tuesday April 16th.

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