Health watchdog brands dental information provided during lockdown ‘inconsistent and confusing’

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A health watchdog has suggested that some dental services provided ‘inconsistent and confusing’ information during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

According to a review conducted by Healthwatch, which was carried out between April and June 2020, many people found information provided by dental services unhelpful. The report was compiled based on the experiences of almost 20,000 people.

Data analysis suggests that a post entitled ‘How can you find an NHS dentist?’ notched up the third highest number of views on the Healthwatch England website during the pandemic. More than 6,100 people viewed the article. The post came third in terms of popularity behind articles entitled, ‘What does shielding mean?’ and ‘What’s the difference between social distancing and self-isolation?’

Although queries about dentistry increased during the lockdown, representatives from Healthwatch England said that there had been an increase in the number of calls from patients who were having trouble getting an appointment with an NHS dentist. Since practices reopened in June, urgent care services are now available at local clinics, but patients who are keen to arrange appointments for routine services may struggle. Some have already reported issues getting an appointment for problems that are deemed non-urgent, with patients being forced to pay to go private if they can’t find an NHS dentist.

Dentists are working tirelessly to clear backlogs after weeks of unexpected closures and patients have been advised that it could take some time before ‘normal’ services resume. Emergency treatment is available and anyone who needs urgent help is encouraged to contact their regular dentist or call NHS 111.

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