Trying to get dental care in a pandemic

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Summary of report content

Since the start of the pandemic, Healthwatch Kent have received 130 pieces of feedback about accessing dental care. Much of this feedback reported challenges people have faced seeking emergency and routine dental care, but there were positive stories as well.

Key Findings:

  • People talked to HW Kent about how hard they found it to get an NHS dentist, both before and after the government announced there-opening of dental practices from 8 June 2020.
  • HW Kent heard from people struggling to get appointments with their dentist and long waiting times
  • Callers raised concerns about the quality of the service received
  • HW Kent heard about the absence of PPE within NHS dental practices
  • People shared their concerns about the cost of going to a private dentist because they couldn’t get NHS treatment
  • The confusion that people experienced about how to get a dentist appointment was clear

HW Kent contacted the Kent Dental Helpline to check what advice they would give to people. They told them that most dentists were not taking new patients because of the backlog of current patients. They also said that people could contact the Dental Helpline to get a list of which dentists were accepting NHS patients. However, the feedback HW Kent received suggests that these lists are not up-to-date.

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General details

Report title 
Trying to get dental care in a pandemic
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Kent
Date of publication 
Saturday, 31 October, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Sunday, 1 March, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Saturday, 31 October, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Cost of services
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Waiting times and lists for treatment
Healthwatch reference number 
Rep 8044

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
How was the information collected? 
Website Feedback
Social Media

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Dentist (non-hospital)
Secondary care services 

Details of people who shared their views

Does the information include public'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? 
Yes but provider disagrees

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.