A mother has questioned the level of emergency dentist cover in Wigan after her nine-year-old son was left in agony while she tried to track down on-call cover.
Amby Charlotte and his mother Michelle were left in limbo after the youngster was left doubled up in pain after he developed problems following a tooth extraction.
After spending three hours attempting to track down an out-of-hours dentist on Monday night, she eventually had to pay £50 for a private consultant in Manchester to provide antibiotics.
Michelle is angry that out-of-hours cover for the borough only amounts to an advice line for those left in extreme pain.
Problems began for Amby on Monday after a tooth extraction. He was given anaesthetic but when this wore off he was left in agony.
But by then his surgery, My Dentist in Hindley, had closed for the night and she was told she could not visit an urgent care centre, or her GP, as the issue was a dental emergency.
Michelle rang an out-of-hours service based in St Helens, part of the Community Dental Network provided by Bridgewater Community NHS Trust, and was provided with a mobile number.
She said: "The call handler at the out-of-hours service even said that I should keep on trying the number because they had had complaints about people not getting through.
"I must have tried the number at least 12 times before I eventually spoke to someone."
She says the person she dealt with still could not offer adequate advice about Amby’s condition, or offer antibiotics, and could only recommend surgeries which may be open the following day.
Further calls to the 111 NHS helpline resulted in her receiving a recommendation for a private dentist based in the Didsbury area of Manchester.
But this was only available if she could drive across Greater Manchester in 40 minutes.
Michelle says once they arrived at the Manchester clinic and Amby was assessed, the dentist did not want to medically intervene and prescribed more antibiotics for the youngster. She was left with a £50 bill.
She added: "Amby was left in agony for hours and you just can’t believe there could be no emergency dentist available for the whole of Wigan."
The youngster has now been assessed by his usual dentist and treatment has been recommended.
A Bridgewater NHS spokesman said: "We have investigated the patient’s mother’s concerns and can confirm our dentist had three conversations with her last night and gave appropriate advice over the telephone.
"This is in line with the service commissioned by NHS England which provides a dental advice service for the population of the Wigan borough Monday to Friday from 5.30pm to 9pm. This service runs in accordance with Department of Health guidance on accessing urgent dental treatment.
"At weekends the service commissioned provides urgent dental treatment for patients who cannot wait until Monday to see a dentist. This service operates between 8.30am and noon on weekends and bank holidays."