Good News for Emergency Patients

Good News for Emergency Patients

You wake up with toothache. Just a few hours later you are seen by a dentist at a dedicated local clinic. Naturally this service is provided under the NHS. Not a dream, but reality, at least for some.

On April 16th the recently appointed Chief Dental Officer for England, Dr Jason Wong, officially opened 3 new dental surgeries for South West London Urgent Dental Care (SWLUDC) in Croydon, London. SWLUDC provide urgent care for NHS patients with bookings made following contact with NHS 111 service.

The expansion of SWLUDCs existing clinic is expected to double their capacity to over 20000 patients a year. This comes as a part of the NHS plan to increase by 15% the capacity to approximately 210000 urgent care appointments in London, annually.

The opening event was attended by 30 dentists and DCPs. Clinical Director of SWLUDC, Dr Scott Aaron spoke to thank the dentists, DCPs and commissioners for their work providing urgent care during the pandemic. Dr Wong said that he felt this was a great example of the profession and the NHS commissioning team working together.

The event was also addressed by Mr Bobby Nizzer of Smile Triage who commented that Croydon is an area of high and complex needs for urgent dental care. Mr Nizzer said the service, at it’s best, allows a patient with toothache to call and be seen locally within a few hours on the NHS.

The expanded SWLUDC service is available on weekdays from 5.00pm to 10.00pm, and at weekends and Bank-Holidays from 9.00am to 10.00pm.

The triage part of the service is a key factor in its operation. Smile Triage is a private company that provides specialised dental triage for a number of London Area Teams. Depending upon the specific team this may be for emergencies or out of hours. There is a strong dental input, Bobby Nizzer being a registered DCP, and the company having a dentist Shalin Kapoor, as its clinical lead.

If further proof were needed that many NHS services depend upon input from private companies,
the website confirms that SWLUDC is managed by Herts Urgent Dental Care (Out of Hours) Limited. What will matter to most patients is that they are able to access an emergency dental service promptly and with NHS fees and exemptions.

Unfortunately for most of the UK population, this remains a local initiative, and many will continue to discover that the NHS is not very National when it comes to emergency dental access.

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