Dental access concern for disabled patients

Many Northamptonshire dentists cannot treat wheelchair users as their surgeries do not have the right equipment, according to a charity for disabled people.

Ability Northants said it had received complaints from wheelchair users who struggle to get the same dental treatment available as able-bodied people.

Director of the charity, Sandra Bell, said: ‘So many dentists are in Victorian buildings which are not easy to adapt and which they will not move out of.

‘There’s not one in the county that I know of which can treat wheelchair users.

‘Dentists just don’t seem to be prepared to treat them.’

Most of the problems seem to be with dental chairs, as many wheelchair users are unable to use them, and special lifting chairs are not available in the majority of the county’s surgeries.

Mrs Bell said: ‘We were contracted by the NHS to do an audit on dental surgeries across the county about five years ago and I would like to know how much of the work that we recommended has actually taken place.’

NHS Northamptonshire has insisted that, despite the complaints to the charity, it had implemented ‘many of the recommendations’ made by Ability Northants but that some premises could not be ‘suitably adapted’. It said that every Northamptonshire town had a surgery with disabled access.

Diane Fenton, head of dentistry and practitioner service for NHS Northamptonshire, said: ‘There is no need for anyone to travel outside the county to get the care they need.’

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