Slow dentists in bottom fifth nationally

PATIENTS in some parts of Suffolk have to wait too long to get dental appointments, it has been revealed.A survey carried out by the Commission for Health Improvements (CHI) has shown that two primary care trusts in the county are within the worst performing 20 per cent of trusts within that category.

By Jessica Nicholls

PATIENTS in some parts of Suffolk have to wait too long to get dental appointments, it has been revealed.

A survey carried out by the Commission for Health Improvements (CHI) has shown that two primary care trusts in the county are within the worst performing 20 per cent of trusts within that category.

Pharmacies also came under scrutiny, as patients felt that the advice they gave was not up to scratch.


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The CHI, an independent health watchdog, published the results of its patients surveys for emergency, outpatients and primary care services in England for 2002-3.

In Suffolk, Ipswich, Suffolk Coastal and Central Suffolk PCT's performed well in the areas of giving information about treatments and choice to patients.

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Patients in all three trusts were happy with the care and advice they got from doctors and their own involvement with the treatment as well as being able to contact GP's out of hours.

It also showed that they trusted and had confidence in the health care workers treating them.

However patients felt that all three trusts performed badly when it came to offering advice and treatment about hearing problems and also being given a choice of which hospital or specialist to see when referred.

A PCT spokesman said: "The patients survey puts the East Suffolk PCTs in the country's top 20 per cent of trusts for the majority of answers. However, we are aware that it also highlighted areas on which we must continue to focus and improve patient services in the future.

It is important for any organisation to have a benchmark on which to build and these figures are just that.  No organisation can grow and succeed without a regular and comprehensive review of their work."

Ipswich Hospital performed well against other hospitals nationally, and in most categories bordered the threshold for the 20 per cent best performing trusts in the country.

However they were let down in the survey of the outpatients department as patients felt they were not given information about how long they would have to wait for an appointment to start and why they were having to wait.

The trust's performance was average against others in many areas such as cleanliness of toilets in the outpatients department and how long patients had to wait before tests were carried out.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust said that the survey paid tribute to the hard work of their staff.

She said that the problem of waiting times in outpatients was being addresses and difficulties often occurred because the departments were so busy.

Although nurses try and explain to everyone why there is a delay some patients may still get missed.

There are also noticeboards and electronic screens in some clinics, but Ms Rowsell said the trust realised there were improvements to be made in that area.

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