Dentistry during COVID-19

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch North Somerset conducted research into dentistry during COVID-19. The research contains the experience-based insight gathered by Healthwatch Bristol, Healthwatch North Somerset and Healthwatch South Gloucestershire throughout the Coronavirus pandemic (March -Mid August 2020). 71 pieces of feedback were shared with Healthwatch North Somerset directly or gathered from closed/public groups on social media, rather than resulting from a project or survey.

Healthwatch North Somerset found that lockdown and difficulties dentists experience to create compliant settings for infection-control is compounding a pre-existing issue of supply of NHS dental services. The impact on the public’s oral health could be damaging and lead to the acuity of problems. Limits to the access to services could mean that the detection of diseases/conditions is compromised (head and neck cancers). Healthwatch North Somerset are further concerned that if the situation continues it will widen health inequalities, as those without means are denied the options available to those able to pay for private appointments.

Healthwatch North Somerset found that good communication between patient and dentist is important to make a diagnosis, improve patient outcomes and satisfaction. The limited or absent communication during the lockdown caused concern for residents. If communication is not resumed, the longer-term impact could be further uncertainty, a backlog for patients and longer waiting times. On emergency and urgent care, Healthwatch North Somerset found that where patients found the right information and accessed emergency treatment the outcome was good. However, service delivery during Lockdown did not meet the expected standard which was for all dentists to provide telephone triage and access to medication. This failure in many parts of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire led to people having long waiting time on calls to 111 and emergency dental hubs and advanced infections (in severity and across multiple teeth.)

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General details

Report title 
Dentistry during COVID-19
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch North Somerset
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 30 September, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Sunday, 1 March, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 21 August, 2020
Type of report 
Patient experience
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Quality of care
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
User stories
How was the information collected? 
Engagement Event
Website Feedback
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

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 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not known
Does the information include staff's views? 
Not known
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

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.