£2.7m funding to help reduce dental waiting lists

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Children could get an NHS dentist appointment in half the time it currently takes after a funding boost from NHS Northamptonshire.

NHS Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire, which runs public health services in the county, will get just over £2.7 million from the Government, much of which will be spent on reducing waiting lists to fix crooked teeth.

A spokesman for NHS Northamptonshire said: “At the moment, the average waiting time for one of these orthodontic appointments on the NHS is 13 months. Using part of this money, we think we can get that down to six months.

“Every person on the waiting list is under 18 so it will be children who benefit from this part of the scheme.”

The remainder of the money will be used to give people greater access to NHS appointments. Health bosses in Northamptonshire want to attract about 15,000 new NHS patients to be seen and treated by April 2014.

The spokesman said: “The practices will each be able to take on more dentists and allow them to open for more hours.

“Both of these things will make it easier to get an appointment in Northamptonshire,”

The Department of Health is giving a £30 million boost for NHS dentists, and NHS Milton Keynes & Northamptonshire has secured almost 10 per cent of the total. Diane Fenton, head of dentistry and optometry at NHS Northamptonshire, said: “Last year we attracted almost 12,000 new patients to NHS dental practices who have since been treated. We want to make sure that this progress continues and that dentists give the highest standards of care as well as treating more patients.

This will allow more patients to see an NHS dentist, get their oral health checked and bring their beaming smile and confidence back.”

NHS dental surgeries in the county declined after 2006, when a new contract came into effect that many dentists believed made them worse off by majoring on private treatment.

Health bosses have been targeting increased access for patients in recent years and have had some success.

Yesterday, 25 out of 34 dentists within five miles of Northampton town centre were accepting fee-paying adult NHS patients. That is up from 18 practices a year ago.