Our call for better access to NHS dental care goes national

Healthwatch’s work highlighting the difficulties patients have had trying to see a dentist during the pandemic has made national headlines.

Healthwatch England has put together a report on this “dental crisis” which includes feedback from patients collected from Healthwatch around the country, highlighting many cases where patients had been left in pain and struggling to get routine and even emergency treatment from a dentist. Last year the number of calls and complaints to Healthwatch about dentistry rose by 452%.

Healthwatch Bristol has had over 120 pieces of feedback from patients, some of whom have not been able to see a dentist at all (between June-December). We have referred our most recent feedback to NHS England in the hope access to NHS treatment can be improved as part of an Oral Needs Assessment and Dental Review.

Although dentists have now reopened, by the end of October 2020 19m fewer NHS dental procedures were carried out compared to the previous year, according to the British Dental Association. Many people have continued to contact us and tell us their often painful experiences. Between October and December 2020 we had 17 people contact us who were struggling to get treatment leaving negative feedback and two comments where people told us they were pleased with their dental care.

From June to September HW Bristol had just over 100 pieces of feedback with many people left in pain and unable to get an appointment. Some people struggled to meet new charges imposed when they were told they could only been seen privately as an emergency.

When the first lockdown started dentists were closed from March to June last year which meant a backlog of patients needing urgent care built up. Dentists are also having to wipe down areas between patients which has meant they are able to see fewer patients per day.

Healthwatch England's full dental report December 2020 here


Read the Guardian's article on Healthwatch highlighting problems accessing NHS dental care here https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/feb/06/patients-struggling-to-g...

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