"NHS dental services in Cumbria"

About: Cumbria Teaching PCT

(as the patient),

Is is true that the NHS only allows 2 missed appointments before being struck off the NHS list? Is the following standard of service for NHS dental patients typical. What are the checks and balances in this situation? I rang the dental practice. Twice I got a recorded message asking me to try later. I was ringing about my dental appointment on Monday, as I was afraid that travel conditions on a journey back from the south of England may mean that I would not get back in time. After the 'answerphone' message that would not take a message I was fearful that I might not be able to alert the practice in time. On the third succesful call I learned that 24 hours notice is in any event required for cancellation, which I can see is a desirable standard.

I raised the difficulty of being unable to leave a message and was told that it was not practicable for NHS patients and informed that the service would be different for private patients. While I recognise that it could present economic challenges for the practice to respond to many messages, the facility to leave a message without the offer of follow up seems important. I have young friends with families who have been bumped off the NHS list at that practice and elsewhere, having missed 2 appointments, none with a casual attitude professional appoinments. With the difficulty of leaving messages and rigid application of 2 fails and you are out, this seems to fall short of an acceptable standard of service.

Is this common practice? What constraints does the NHS put on dental service?

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Response from NHS Cumbria

Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback about the NHS Dental Service and specifically your practice. There is no policy from NHS Cumbria on missed appointments. As Independent Contractors, Dental Practices are responsible for their own Polices and Guidelines. In regards to missed appointments, we ask that a practice decide on a policy that works best for them and ensure that this is well publicised within the Practice and in their Information leaflet to patients. I am sorry if you feel this has not happened in this case.

If you would wish to pursue this matter further please contact NHS Cumbria’s Complaints Team on 01539 797861 and we would be happy to look into this matter in more detail.

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