ACCESSING an NHS dentist in the borough and beyond is proving impossible for lots of people.

One resident says they were quoted £800 to fix one tooth privately after phoning up to 25 dentists in and around the borough – none of which were accepting NHS patients.

In a new report to Wigan council’s Health Scrutiny committee, health watchdogs Healthwatch Wigan and Leigh have revealed a rise in complaints from residents that they are unable to access free dental care on the NHS.

The group has been working with regional and national colleagues gathering evidence across the country to look into the rising problem, which it says Wigan is no exception in facing.

A spokesperson for Healthwatch Greater Manchester said: “The most common theme that we receive calls through our information and signposting

role is access to NHS dentist services. We are informed by members of the public that they are unable to access a dentist within or outside of the borough.

“We have raised this locally but as dentistry is not a locally commissioned service there is little the Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) can do about this issue. It is possible that more prevention work could be done locally through Public Health to raise the profile of good oral health to help in the longer term.

“We worked with our colleagues in Greater Manchester to gather evidence as we recognise that the issue was not restricted to Wigan.”

Vulnerable residents are actively being supported by Healthwatch and the Wigan and Bolton Local Dental Committee to access NHS dentists, but Healthwatch added that ‘this does not help those members of the public who are not classed as being vulnerable’.

The report goes on to share residents’ experiences of the issue.

One resident said: “Yesterday I received urgent dental treatment for pain in one of my teeth which was ongoing for a week. The urgent treatment was to put a temporary filling in place. I was then advised to register with a local dentist as the tooth would require further work to make right.

“Today I phoned around 25 dentists all who said they were not taking on NHS patients, however, were accepting private patients. I asked how much the treatment I needed was going to cost privately and was told in excess of £800 for one tooth, I cannot afford this treatment.

“I am extremely upset and disappointed that the dentists were not registering new NHS patients but were more then happy to see me privately.”

Another resident, who lives in Leigh, said they’ve lived in the area for two years now and are still unable to find an NHS dentist they can register with anywhere nearby.

Healthwatch Wigan and Leigh stated it is keen to ‘escalate’ their concerns and see the issue resolved.