A MOVE to reduce waiting times for emergency dental treatment in Cumbria by upskilling dental staff has been welcomed by MP Tim Farron.

South Cumbria is experiencing an ongoing crisis in respect of accessing an NHS dentist, with people having to travel long distances for treatment, and the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP has been at the forefront of the campaign to address the situation.

But now Cumbria’s special care and community dental service, which operates from a number of hospitals including Westmorland General Hospital, have launched an initiative where dentists, dental therapists and dental nurses are being 'upskilled' to deliver sedation, with the aim of increasing the number of staff who can fill this role and thereby hopefully reduce waiting times.

“This is really welcome news and will be a big boost in helping people who need emergency dental treatment," said Mr Farron.

The service's clinical director Natalie Carman explained that this training previously had to be undertaken out of county and at some cost, but nine staff have already completed their training and more are to follow.

“This is great news for Cumbria as we will be able to begin to reduce our waiting lists," said Ms Carman.

"Currently in some parts of the county patients are waiting over 18 weeks for care with sedation and we are aiming to get it less than this.”

However Mr Farron, who this week met representatives of the British Association of Dental Therapists as part of his ongoing campaign of lobbying on the issue, stressed the upskilling initiative, while welcome, did not address the main issue.

“This des not fix the underlying problem that we don’t have enough NHS dentists locally," he said.

“With the help of organisations like the British Association of Dental Therapists and the British Dental Association, I will continue to campaign for the Government to change the contracts to reward dentists for doing preventative treatment, so that we can bring the dentists that we so desperately need to the South Lakes.”