Special care dental service update given to St Albans health group

The service is being moved from St Albans City Hospital to Hemel Hempstead. Photo: DANNY LOO

The service is being moved from St Albans City Hospital to Hemel Hempstead. Photo: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

Further details on the relocation of the special care dental service from St Albans City Hospital to Hemel have been revealed.

The district council’s St Albans Health and Wellbeing Partnership heard from Herts Community Trust (HCT) about the move, which has upset some patients, at a meeting last week.

The special care dental service provides dental care for disabled adults and children, who cannot use conventional dentists.

Herts Community Trust’s director of operations Marion Dunstone said: “It is not a service that can be provided in each locality, and currently we provide it in four locations,” - including St Albans City Hospital.

She said most of the demand for the service was around Hemel Hempstead and Watford.

“There are limitations around size at St Albans, which are removed by moving to the building we are refurbishing at Hemel Hempstead.”

The new site, based at The Marlowes, is expected to be completed by next March at the latest.

Special care dental service’s Gillian Lowey said: “The facilities are much bigger and much more able to take wheelchairs and stretchers, which is a huge advantage as it means people can get around the surgery.

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“The new site is ground-floor access, while the current service is on the first floor, and you need a map to be able to get there.”

Outside the Hemel facility, there will be a drop-off point outside, which Ms Lowey said means patients can comfortably exit and be picked up.

The facility is also getting new equipment, including new imaging gear, which HCT say will be much quicker than the traditional x-ray.

Ms Lowey said: “This means we can plan treatment immediately.

“NHS England have also been wanting some sort of service for bariatric patients [undergoing weight loss surgery], and we have only been able to get a maximum of 22 stone in weight.

“Our new chairs can take up to 30 stone in weight.”

One of the Partnership’s members, funding manager for St Albans Centre for Voluntary Services Kate Newton, said: “This is marvellous, but people are really worried how to get there.”

To which Ms Lowey replied: “50 per cent of the patients are outside the ‘AL’ postcode area.

“In St Albans the distance between the sites is 7.2 miles, and there are good transport links.”