A number of people have contacted me and my fellow MHK Dr Allinson regarding access to an NHS Dentist in the North of the Island.
The biggest concern people have had is that they just can’t get an appointment when they need one.
It’s safe to say that the way we deliver Dentistry on the Isle of Man is in need of an update – and after meeting with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) I know they are working hard to do just that.
This is going to be a long process and the service won’t be fixed overnight.
I also know they are working hard to get a long term solution in place for the North, so that everyone who needs it can access an NHS dentist in Ramsey.
I accept this wont happen quickly – and yet we need something in place now so people don’t suffer.
To this end the area I was most focused on was making sure people could get emergency NHS treatment if they needed it, as well as making sure that people have full access to information about all the practices on the Island so if they don’t already have a regular dentist they can see which practices are accepting new NHS patients.
After a very productive meeting with the DHSC I’m glad to say they’ve updated the information that’s available and have also clarified exactly how someone can get access to emergency dentistry on the NHS.
Your first port of call is the Government Dentistry website
This website gives information on:
- Practice webpages & their telephone numbers
- Indication of practices currently taking NHS patients
- Information on exemptions and NHS fees
- Information on how to apply for an exemption if you are on low income but don’t fall in one of the pre-existing categories
And contact details for the Emergency Dentist as well as a leaflet explaining the service
Finally the webpage has information and links to two key items – Feedback and Complaints.
Why is this important? Well unfortunately simply making a verbal complaint, contacting your MHK or posting on social media doesn’t count as a formal ‘complaint’ – which makes it very difficult for the Department to address any issues with the contracted Dentists.
Yes these methods can make the DHSC aware of concerns, but when it comes to enforcing a contract to deliver services these methods sometimes aren’t enough.
So i’d urge anyone who has a genuine complaint to submit a written complaint following the guidelines on the website.
If you’d rather not go through this formal process then there is a handy alternative – the online The Friends and Family Survey
This is a quick anonymous survey that you can complete any time you’ve visited the Dentist and leave feedback for the DHSC. Tell them about receiving a great service, or if you have concerns or if you had any issues during your visit.
It’s not the same as a formal complaint, but it does let the DHSC know that there are problems it needs to look into – and with enough of this informal feedback they can start to take action.
So no quick fix for Ramsey residents, but a small step in the right direction I think.
I’ll keep working with Dr Allinson and the DHSC to make sure the underlying problems are addressed and to ensure that we get back a full NHS dental service in Ramsey that meets our needs, but in the meantime I hope this short update has been helpful.