Access to Oxfordshire dental services during COVID-19 restrictions

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Oxfordshire undertook a short research project to understand local people’s experiences of finding a dentist for routine and urgent treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the period from November 2020 to January 2021, they undertook a survey to which 221 people responded.

it showed:

  • That restricted access has meant that people who cannot see a dentist for urgent care have been left in pain or with worsening oral health.
  • While wealthier people were able to access treatment during this time by paying privately, this effectively excludes those on lower incomes.
  • People told us they wanted more and fairer access to dental care across public and private sectors, especially for urgent or emergency treatment.

Despite NHS England targets being imposed, many people are still finding it difficult to get a dentist appointment. Because of restricted services there is a backlog of cases and dentists are compelled to prioritise patients in need of urgent treatment. However, the evidence shows that dental services can open and run in COVID-secure ways and continue providing patients with high quality care when necessary.

The report includes three recommendations about the need for up to date information on dentists’ websites, the need for clear and regular communication between dental surgeries and their patients and the need to spread best practice.

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General details

Report title 
Access to Oxfordshire dental services during COVID-19 restrictions
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Oxfordshire
Date of publication 
Friday, 30 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Sunday, 1 November, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 31 January, 2021
Key themes 
Access
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Health protection
Information providing
Service closure
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Waiting times and lists for treatment

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
No
Primary research method used 
Survey
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 
N/A

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Dentist (non-hospital)

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
221
Age group 
All
Gender 
All
Ethnicity 
All
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Yes
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not known
Does the information include staff's views? 
No
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 
Mixed

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Yes
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Yes
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Tangible impact (not cost related)

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
 
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
 
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.