Dentistry Briefing February 2021

This briefing focuses on dentistry, which once again has featured prominently in national media due to work of Healthwatch England, and a topic we at Healthwatch North Yorkshire have been raising for several months now.
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Since the beginning of February last year (3rd February 2020 – 3rd February 2021), we received 89 pieces of feedback regarding dentistry. Increasing from 7.38% to 11.27% of contacts on the rolling 12 months’ basis since our last review in October. The findings of the feedback review conducted in October are still relevant, with the situation only deteriorating further.

Key findings: 

  • People are still struggling to register for an NHS dentist.  
  • COVID-19 continues to cause delays to NHS dental treatment.
  • Increasing concern around the dental health of children whose regular appointments have been cancelled due to COVID-19 and not been rearranged.
  • A growing frustration that private patients are accessing routine appointments when NHS patients cannot. Many people cannot afford the cost of private treatment.
  • Emergency provision does seem available, but these may be too far for some people to travel.
  • Members of the public attempting to register as an NHS patient are often not even being offered to go on a 2-year waiting list anymore.
  • Members of the public seeking to register are often offered to go private and be seen earlier: indicating that dentists do have capacity for treatment, but the NHS is not utilising this potential.

A lack of an NHS dentist still accounts for the majority of the dentist-related inquiries we receive, relating to nearly half.

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