‘Frequent complaints’ about Hartlepool’s dentist and GP appointment system

Stephane Thomas

Healthwatch Hartlepool representatives, speaking at the last meeting of the town’s health and welfare board, said they frequently receive complaints in both areas.

Stephen Thomas, of the Healthwatch group, said the message is coming “loud and clear” from patients about the issues.

He said: “I think the problem of getting a GP appointment is such a barrier for many people in the city to access services when they need them in a timely manner.

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“I think while virtual dating has worked for some, it’s not working for everyone.”

He acknowledged that the problem, along with dental care, is currently a broader national issue.

He continued, “What we get more than anything else is the problems people are having getting dental services.

“If a person has moved from another neighborhood in the city, it is virtually impossible for them to access a dentist.”

Karen Hawkins, from the Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group, responded by noting that the pandemic had impacted both areas, adding: ‘Demand for GP appointments in general for surgeries has exceeded what it was before the pandemic.

“It’s a particular challenge as we enter the winter period, but practices are committed and remain committed to staying open.”

She added that access to dental appointments had also been an issue before the pandemic, although emergency treatment was and remains available through the 111 service.

She said: ‘We are awaiting an update regarding dental care and the next steps on how we return to pre-pandemic levels of care.


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