Local information

Moretonhampstead

Moretonhampstead is a market town, parish and ancient manor in Devon, situated on the north-eastern edge of Dartmoor, within the Dartmoor National Park. The parish now includes the hamlet of Doccombe, and it is surrounded clockwise from the north by the parishes of Drewsteignton, Dunsford, Bridford, Bovey Tracey, Lustleigh, North Bovey and Chagford.

Moretonhampstead is twinned with Betton in France.

The town lies on the A382 road, connecting it to the trunk A38 and A30 roads. Bus services are from the car park just west of the town centre and include services to Exeter (359/173) and Plymouth (82).

Beating the Bounds

On Sunday 8th May, members of the community joined Moretonhampstead Parish Council for the first leg of Beating the Bounds.

Beating the bounds is a centuries-old tradition, aimed at reminding everyone of boundaries that were important in their lives. Parishioners would walk the parish bounds. The children would carry willow wands to beat the boundary markers with, and in some ceremonies children had their heads bumped on boundary stones to imprint them firmly in the memory.

2 mini buses picked us up at 9.30am from Court Street Car Park and dropped us off at Didworthy Cottages to begin our 8 mile walk of the boundary led by Mike Jeffery. Landowners kindly gave us permission to cross their land. We made our descent towards Doccombe through private fields full of beautiful wildflowers and curious cattle!

We joined the road at Ducksmoor Cottage for a short walk along the road to Thomas Cleeve Wood. According to tradition, the youngest and oldest member of the group should be bumped on the boundary marker but they weren’t keen on this so we settled for a picture of the youngest member of the group!

The bluebells through Thomas Cleeve Wood looked stunning in the sunshine. The walk continued through Black Marsh and Dunsford Wood where we stopped for a much needed picnic. After lunch we continued to Clifford Bridge and then through Fingle Woods to our final destination, Fingle Bridge which we arrived at 3pm.

Throughout the walk we were lucky to hear interesting historic tales from Mike Jeffery and Bill Hardiman.

NHS Dental provision in Moretonhampstead

The Parish Council discussed the decision of one NHS Dentist in Moretonhampstead to stop offering NHS services following correspondence received from parishioners. The Council agreed to write to Mel Stride MP and Healthwatch Devon to ask them what they are doing about the fact that some Dentists are not serving NHS patients and the increasing NHS waiting lists.

Reply received from Mel Stride MP:

Thank you for your letter regarding dental services in Devon.

I have previously been in correspondence with NHS England on dental service provision in our area.  There is an acknowledgement that access needs to be expanded, and NHS England set out what it proposes to do:

‘Thank for your follow-up communication seeking an update on access to NHS dental services in Devon.

As advised previously, access to NHS dental services in Devon has historically been challenging, with demand exceeding the capacity available mainly due to insufficient workforce and the capacity of practices to take on new patients. NHS places continue to be made available however are unable to match the growing demand, largely due to challenges practices are experiencing in recruitment. Work is underway at a national level to identify solutions to the recruitment and retention pressures in NHS dental services, and to understand and address the constraints of the current national NHS dental contract mechanisms. The local NHS England and NHS Improvement dental commissioning team is working with local partners and accessing any additional support available nationally, to address the shortfall in NHS dental services in Devon. We have a range of actions that are underway, including:

  • Working with dental providers to ensure existing contracts are delivering to their maximum potential. We review the under and over performance of our dental contracts on a regular basis, and support practices to deliver on their contracted activity. We procure new contracts in an area where there is insufficient dental access but need to be able to ensure the workforce can be secured by a new contractor.
  • Commissioning additional NHS work from dental practices that have capacity.
  • Practices are working with the Dental Helpline to ensure that as NHS places become available, they are made available to those patients who have contacted the helpline and are seeking NHS dental care. The team can help individual patients secure the best care for them according to their location and ability to travel, and continuously review where and when places are becoming available and ensure patients are allocated to a practice as quickly as possible when places become available. Please find the contact details for the helpline should your constituents require them; Dental Helpline telephone 03330 063 300 or email accessdentalhelpline@nhs.net
  • We continue to work closely with local dental networks (led by dentists across the region), dental practices, public health experts, and the dental school to develop referral pathways and identify initiatives to increase dental capacity in the community. The limiting factor currently is workforce and we are working with the national dental workforce team to look at more innovative ways to attract dental staff to the area.
  • We work with Local Authority Public Health colleagues who lead on Oral Health Promotion and Improvement including health promotion for both children and adults.

The Dental Helpline centrally assist patients in finding an NHS dentist. When there are no spaces available for immediate access to a routine appointment with a dentist, the helpline team works with practices to ensure people seeking NHS dental care are offered a dentist as soon as places are available in their preferred area.

When contacting the dental helpline, individuals are asked to indicate preferred areas in which to be allocated and will be allocated to a practice in one of these areas as places become available. Sometimes places do become available which may be outside of the patient’s immediate preferred area and if the patient is prepared to travel this may mean that they receive treatment sooner. If this is an option individuals wish to consider then we advise they contact the helpline and discuss the options with them.

It may be helpful to explain some of the issues that have impacted on access to NHS dentistry during the Covid-19 pandemic. On 25 March 2020 NHS dental practices were asked by the Chief Dental Officer to cease face to face dentistry to limit the transmission of COVID-19. Restrictions around the provision of face to face dental care were lifted on 8 June 2020.

Dental practices are now undertaking a phased resumption towards providing the full range of dental services, and as part of this they are prioritising care according to clinical need to ensure that those with the most need, for example those requiring urgent dental care, are able to access services.

NHS England and NHS Improvement as commissioners of NHS dentistry are working with contractors to support them to resume services in a way that is safe and effective for patients and staff, recognising there is a requirement for enhanced safety standards, including Personal Protective Equipment and Infection Prevention Control procedures which inevitably impact on clinical and practice capacity.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have during the pandemic increased access to urgent dental treatment for those without a regular dentist as we recognise demand is high. We are undertaking regular review of demand versus capacity for urgent dental care to ensure provision is available for those that need it most. We have recently commissioned some additional urgent dental care capacity to continue to meet the needs of patients and this has now come on stream.

It may be helpful to explain that dental practices are independent businesses, often providing a combination of NHS and private dentistry. Patients are not registered with a dentist in the same way they are with a General Practitioner (Doctor). Practices providing NHS treatment are listed on www.nhs.uk. NHS England and NHS Improvement do not hold information on practices who are currently accepting new patients. It is the practices responsibility to maintain accurate information on www.nhs.uk, we regularly communicate to practices the importance of reviewing and updating this information.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, dental practices providing NHS care have been prioritising urgent care treatment based on clinical need whilst operating with a reduced capacity as outlined above, which has meant that they have overall not been taking on new patients in the recent pandemic period. Unfortunately, it is not possible to say exactly at the current time when individual practices will be able to take on new patients either via the helpline or individually. Unfortunately, we are unable to directly assist individuals with locating a dentist as we need to ensure equity of process for all patients.

If any individual has a dental emergency, there are arrangements in place to ensure that anyone who does not have a dentist and has an urgent dental need can access an urgent dental appointment. Patients in Devon should contact NHS 111 or Access Dental on 03330 063 300 in the event of an urgent dental need.’

Additionally, the Government has announced an additional £50m in funding for NHS dentistry to the end of the financial year:

NHS England » Hundreds of thousands more dental appointments to help recovery of services.

On dental services in Moretonhampstead, I include below the response I have received from Rachel Pearce, Regional Director of Commissioning, NHS England South West, reiterating the points included in my previous correspondence, providing the following information:

“Dear Mr Mel Stride MP

Thank you for your recent correspondence on behalf of your constituents regarding access to NHS dental provision in Moretonhampstead, and specifically in relation to the experience of constituents who have received correspondence from Moretonhampstead Dental Practice informing them that NHS dental services will no longer be available through this practice.

A practice can extricate itself from an NHS contract by giving 3-month notice’s as per the national dental regulations, and this would be a decision taken by the practice. We are sorry to hear of the concern that the Moretonhampstead Dental Practice decision has caused for your constituents and we apologise for any inconvenience.

It is important to know that if your constituents have a dental emergency, there are arrangements in place to ensure that anyone who does not have a dentist and has an urgent dental need can access an urgent dental appointment. Patients in Devon should contact NHS 111 or Access Dental on 03330 063 300 in the event of an urgent dental need.”

I have subsequently written to the Department of Health and Social Care on what recent assessment has been made on the suitability of Dental Services Contracts and I will let you know the response I receive.

Thank you again.

With best wishes,

Mel

Rt Hon. Mel Stride MP

Member of Parliament for Central Devon

Reply from Healthwatch:

Thank you for your letter to Healthwatch Devon dated 2 March 2022. This has been forwarded to me to respond.
Firstly, I note your comments and information you have provided around the decision by one of the dentists at Moretonhampstead Dental Practice to withdraw from providing NHS Dental Services.
We have also been contacted by email by one of the patients stating the same. I have responded to them via email.
Regarding your question as to what actions Healthwatch are taken around your concerns, I provide the following in response.
In terms of what can be done about stopping the withdrawal of services at Moretonhampstead Dental Practice and what is being done around alternative NHS services for patients, I have forwarded the concerns raised to NHS England’s South West Dental Commissioning Team and have asked for a response.
I am not sure what that may be, but NHS Dental Services are commissioning as ‘packets of work’ and dentists chose whether they provide NHS services or not. The packets of work relate to the 3 tiers of treatment undertaken under the NHS banner.
Regarding raising this with the Department of Health and NHS England, local Healthwatches across England have been raising concerns around the increasing difficulty that patients have in accessing NHS Dental Services to our national body, Healthwatch England (HWE).  HWE have produced 2 reports to the Department of Health and NHS England and have spoken at a session of the Health Select Committee around the issues that patients are experiencing.  We are aware that NHS England are working on plans to develop the way that NHS Dental Services are commissioned in the future, and we are currently awaiting details.
The following is a link to the latest HWE report – https://www.healthwatch.co.uk/blog/2021-12-12/recovery-nhs-dental-care-too-slow-help-thousands-left-pain
In the meantime, we continue to raise concerns with NHS England’s South West Dental Commissioning Team.

Yours faithfully

A N Gravett MBE
Communications, Intelligence and Systems Lead
Healthwatch Devon, Plymouth & Torbay

Information for Dog Owners

Many residents in Moretonhampstead are keen dog owners so the town is a great attraction both for them and for other visitors.

In some areas, it may be appropriate for dogs to be off the lead but they should always be well controlled and able to respond quickly when recalled. This is essential, as community is also used by large numbers of young children, cyclists and others.

Dogs are not permitted in the play parks (The Sentry and Sports Centre) where there is clear signage to indicate this.

All residents and visitors are expected to pick up after their dogs please and to ensure all dog mess is bagged and placed in one of the many bins provided.

Dartmoor National Park Authority have provided some useful information for all dog owners.

George Bidder Memorial

The team responsible for the installation of the George Bidder memorial, David Cannon and John Dodds, have kindly donated the memorial to the care of the Parish Council. The Council are delighted to accept and look after the memorial for many years to come. The memorial is a real credit to them both and Geneva Island looks fantastic.

David and Cannon have wrote an article on the history of the monument and George Bidder.

The memorial was officially opened on Saturday, 24th July. The opening was attended by descendants of George Bidder  who had travelled down to Moretonhampstead from as far afield as Cheshire and even Edinburgh! Members of the community involved in the installation of the memorial were also in attendance. The White Hart provided refreshments after the opening ceremony.

Photo credit: Mike Rego

Local Road Closures

Road closure diversion routes in Devon can be found at https://one.network/custom/devon/.

Citizens Advice

Get advice

A message from Citizens Advice:

You can get advice from us online, by email and over the phone. Please note due to Coronavirus restrictions affecting several of our staff and volunteers we are running a reduced service. Please bear with us.

Online

Before using our service we recommend visiting the national Citizens Advice website, which has a lot of useful information about the issues people come to see us with. A search there is a great place to start when you have a problem you’re not sure how to handle.

Email Advice

A new digital advice service is open to Teignbridge residents only and is provided by Citizens Advice Teignbridge.   To make an enquiry Click here

Telephone

You can contact us by calling Devon Adviceline on 03444 111444, 9.00am–4.00pm Monday–Friday. If you phone us we’ll spend a few minutes asking you about your issue to work out the best way we can help you.

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