New NHS initiative in Widnes and Runcorn aims to improve access to dental care for hard to reach communities

New NHS initiative in Widnes and Runcorn aims to improve access to dental care

An NHS Community Dental Service in Widnes and Runcorn is improving the way it works with hard to reach communities so they can gain better access to dental care.

Bridgewater’s Dental service currently provides support to anyone who is unable to access an NHS Family Dentist due to a disability or special need. It is now targeting people who may face other barriers to accessing treatment at their local dental surgery.

This includes people who have been subjected to human or sexual trafficking, the travelling community, people seeking asylum and people who do not speak English as a first language.

David Mills, Specialist in Special Care Dentistry/Lead Clinician for Bridgewater said:

“Figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that over 40% of the general population attend the dentist irregularly and approximately 2% never attend.

Anecdotal evidence shows that amongst marginalised groups these figures are likely to be higher, as the burden of dental disease lies in those who attend irregularly or not at all.

We have set up a staff working group to understand how we can better target these groups.

Also, to help gain access to and build up trust with people in these specific communities, the dental services team is working closely with other healthcare professionals and service providers.”

Specialist Radiography Dental Nurse and one of Bridgewater’s Engagement Champion’s Carly Coull, who is based at Hallwood Health Centre has also been able to share her knowledge and insight gained through her work with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) at her local church.

The main aim of the SVP is to support anyone in the community who requires help, this could be the homeless, people in financial difficulty or any other vulnerable and hard to reach groups.

This has enabled Carly to promote the importance of dental care, including regular brushing, accessing a dentist and ensuring regular visits.

Carly said: “Although still in the very early stages and with challenges still to face, the initial feedback has been very positive. As we continue to build links with other healthcare services and build confidence and trust in the communities, we feel this initiative will go from strength to strength.”

The engagement initiative has also been launched in Bolton, Wigan and St Helens.

Find out more about Bridgewater’s Community Dental Services.

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