Health watchdog suggests dental patients looking for non-urgent treatment are paying for private care

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A health watchdog has suggested that patients who are looking for non-essential dental treatment are being forced to pay for private care. 

Representatives from Healthwatch England claim to have received several calls from patients who were unable to access services at an NHS clinic. People have contacted the body after failing to get an appointment at an NHS practice. Most practices in the UK are currently prioritising emergency services, and those who have needs that are deemed non-urgent are being turned away, according to the watchdog. 

Other issues raised by the watchdog include confusion related to how to access emergency dental care and charges added to dental bills to cover PPE costs. Some private providers have added fees to legislate for rising PPE prices. NHS practices are not charging patients more, but private clinics are adding up to £60 depending on the type of treatment provided. Additional PPE is required for some procedures, including AGPs (aerosol-generating procedures). 

At present, most dental practices are limiting patient numbers, with those with urgent needs being given priority. It could be some time before routine services resume, but dentists are eager to stress that urgent care is available. Patients who require emergency treatment can contact their regular practice or NHS 111 outside of normal working hours. 

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