Accessing NHS dental care and treatment became increasingly difficult during the pandemic, and we've been inundated with calls from people looking for an NHS dentist.
The issues raised included broken teeth, abscesses, and severe pain. Some people have been suddenly de-registered by their practice, and many were only able to find dentists offering private treatment which they could not afford.
Thanks to the feedback shared with Healthwatch Bristol, we were able to highlight the ongoing dental crisis with the NHS. As with all patient experience data, we forwarded a report containing anonymous comments to the Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS England and Improvement, and Healthwatch England.
Stories from Bristol residents formed evidence used in a Healthwatch England report: Dentistry and the impact of COVID-19, which made national headlines and fuelled a parliamentary campaign urgently calling for NHS dental reform plans to create more equitable and affordable dental care.
In Bristol, our work highlighting patients who are unable to afford dental care attracted the attention of BBC Radio Bristol, and we provided information in two interviews.
Representing all three Healthwatch BNSSG areas, our Bristol Area Lead, Julie Bird, has compiled feedback from 13 Healthwatch organisations across the South West commissioning area. The South West Dental Network have agreed to look at how communication can be improved with patients.
Feedback has been shared with clinicians and updated for quarterly Dental Network Meetings. The NHS Dental Reform Programme workshops asked to use the data to focus their discussions.
In addition, Healthwatch called on the government to regularly update dental information on their websites, and we asked NHS Engand to ensure their "Find a dentist" website is kept up-to-date.
We've also compiled a list of of ways you can access dental treatment in Bristol, and information about why you may not be able to find an NHS dentist and what you can do.
If you would like to share your feedback on health and social care services, including dentistry, please click the pink 'Talk to us' button below.