Lancashire’s NHS dental crisis: Chorley resident blasts “sick joke” of an advert boasting about the number of NHS dentists

An NHS advert in Chorley town centre about the abundance of dentists taking on patients has become an increasing joke to local residents...
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Just days after it was revealed that no NHS dentists in Lancashire are taking on new adult patients, a Chorley resident has called a sign stating the exact opposite a “sick joke.”

What does the sign say?

The sign, located on the side of Chorley Health Central, has the headline: “There are more NHS dentists than you think.”

An advert in Chorley boasting about the number of NHS dentists taking on patients has become somewhat of a joke to local residents.An advert in Chorley boasting about the number of NHS dentists taking on patients has become somewhat of a joke to local residents.
An advert in Chorley boasting about the number of NHS dentists taking on patients has become somewhat of a joke to local residents.
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It then says “There are now NHS Dental Practices working in your area that are accepting new patients”, before providing contact details on how to sign up.

What do local residents say about the sign?

One 73 year old man from Chorley said: “I walk past that sign most days of your life, and it's been making me laugh more and more. It's been there for years and was obviously put up at the point where there were a few NHS appointments available.

"In fact, I got one a good few years ago, and I'm registered now as an NHS patient with a local dentist, but I still can't get an appointment because of the backlog, and where I go, they're prioritising private patients, so I've not been for 12 months. I rang up about a couple of loose fillings and was told I just couldn't get an appointment.

“So I thought about this sign when I saw the story about dentists, and I thought well, it might make somebody laugh or cry!

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“They'd be better off showing a whiskey bottle and a piece of string… that's from the old cow boy films on the television. When there were no dentists, whoever had toothache used to drink half a bottle of whiskey, and then tie a piece of string around his teeth and tie the other end of the string to a doorknob and then get somebody to shut the door, and the tooth would come flying out!”

How long has the sign been there?

Although its installment date is not known for certain, Google Maps shows it was present in 2015, but not 2009, so at least seven years.

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What have the NHS said?

The advertisement is credited to Central Lancashire NHS, a now defunct organisation.

As neither the current NHS England or the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board had any involvement in the installment of the sign, they did not wish to add a comment.

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However NHS England did tell the post that their dental operational team are working with local NHS commissioners to confirm who owns the medical centre in order to discuss removing the sign.

NHS North West reiterated their statement from earlier in the week, which is as follows: “The NHS recently announced the first reforms to dentistry services since 2006 which will support practices to improve access including by giving high performing practices the opportunity to increase their activity and treat more patients – discussions around further changes that benefit patients and staff are ongoing.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a disproportionate impact on the North West region, has inevitably led to a disruption in routine dental care with NHS dentists having to focus on providing care for those with an urgent dental need.

“We are committed to ensuring everyone can access high quality dental care, and are looking at ways to increase access to existing services working with partners, including local dentists, to improve the recruitment and retention of the dental workforce in the area.

“At the end of January, NHS England nationally announced £50 million of non-recurrent funding to help increase access to dentistry services across the country, equating to just over £7million in the North West and aimed at addressing the most pressing issues around patient access where timely intervention for the relief of oral pain, disease and infection is vital to prevent and reduce future complications. In the North West we released further additional funding to support that work.

“All practices in the region have been invited to be involved in this initiative and additional access is becoming available each week.

“It is important to note that anyone who is in dental pain or in urgent need of support, help or advice, can telephone their own dental practice in the usual way. If they don’t have a usual dentist and have an urgent need they can contact the dental helpline on 0300 1234 010.”