Coronavirus: Dental services at 'crisis point'

Published
Related Topics
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionLess than half of the dentists contacted by the BBC said they are currently providing routine check-ups

Dental services have been pushed to "crisis point" by coronavirus, leaving people in "severe pain", a health group has said.

Healthwatch Bristol said it had been contacted by more than 100 people unable to get an NHS appointment.

Data obtained by the BBC showed less than half of NHS dentists surveyed are providing routine check-ups.

The Department of Health said it was giving "priority access" to urgent care and vulnerable groups.

Healthwatch Bristol's area lead Julie Bird said some people had been offered private appointments but could not afford to pay.

She said other patients did not know if they could be treated by NHS dentists because websites were unclear.

She said: "A lack of communication from dentistry professionals has left people not just in severe pain but also confused and anxious and we want websites to help people be better informed."

Check-ups suspended

Dentists were closed from 23 March until 8 June over concerns about the spread of coronavirus, leaving a backlog of appointments.

The BBC phoned 40 dentists across the West to find out whether they were offering check-ups.

In Wiltshire, three of the 10 asked were not doing them, while six out of 10 in Bristol were not.

In both Gloucestershire and Somerset, five of the 10 were offering check-ups.

Jade Reynolds, from Bristol, was given an NHS appointment after she broke a tooth in March but saw her appointment revoked and then reinstated.

She said there had been "serious communication problems" with the advice she was given.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We want everyone to be able to access affordable, high-quality dental care and the government has taken unprecedented action to support the dental sector throughout this pandemic.

"Priority access is expected to be given to urgent care and vulnerable groups, with over 600 urgent dental centres continuing to provide extra support to the dental sector.

"We are working closely with the NHS to increase access as fast as possible, while protecting staff and patients from Covid-19 infection risks."

Follow BBC West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to: bristol@bbc.co.uk

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.