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.
- 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.