Covid-19 pandemic pushes NHS dentistry to crisis point, finds new report

Healthwatch England is calling for action to address widespread issues with access to NHS dental care following an unprecedented surge in concerns.
Image of dentist equipment

The review of 1,300 people’s experiences of accessing dental care found that:

  • More than 7 in 10 people (73%) found it difficult to access help and support when they needed it.
  • Access issues were caused by dentists not taking on NHS patients, as well as conflicting advice from different parts of the NHS about what help is available.
  • Many people were offered treatment if they went private, despite research indicating that 40% of people would struggle to afford private dental care. 
  • The impact of not being able to access care led to many people to experience pain, discomfort and further complications.
  • The increase in feedback comes after the British Dental Association reported that treatments delivered by NHS dental services in England are at a quarter of pre-Covid levels, with over 14.5 million fewer procedures taking place.

Read the report in full

If we don’t improve access to NHS dental care, not only do people risk facing far greater dental problems in the future but it also puts pressure on overstretched hospitals and GPs. Untreated dental problems can lead to pain, infection and the risk of long-term harm, which is comparable with other medical conditions.

                                                   - Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair of Healthwatch England

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