Give the low-down on dentists

PATIENT representatives in Suffolk today backed a national campaign to find out the low down on NHS dentist services.

PATIENT representatives in Suffolk today backed a national campaign to find out the low-down on NHS dentist services.

The campaign aims to get to the bottom of how easy it to access services, what patients' experiences are like and what patients' views are of dentists.

Dentistry Watch is being supported by the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH), and involves the East and West Suffolk Primary Care Trust Patient and Public Involvement Forums.

Anne Nicholls, chairwoman of the west Suffolk forum, said: “In 2006 new measures came in to improve the provision of NHS dental care throughout England. These gave each primary care trust (PCT) a duty to provide reasonable dental care services in their area to meet local patient demand.

“However, evidence suggests that numerous people are either unable to register with an NHS dentist close to their home, or do not know how to find one.

Many PCTs are also struggling to find the budget to encourage private dental practices back into the NHS system due to lack of funding.

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“We hope by questioning patients, the general public and dentists, we will be able to provide an accurate picture of NHS dental provision: whether it matches current government figures and the over all quality of care.”

Patients will be questioned throughout August and local and national findings will be published in October.

The Dentistry Watch campaign follows Care Watch and Food Watch campaigns, which highlighted patients' views on whether they had been treated with dignity while in hospital, and concerns over the quality of hospital food.

For further information, contact the Forum Support Office on 01473 407341.