Figures reveal pandemic's huge impact on dental care in Nottinghamshire

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on dental care has been laid bare by new figures revealing a slump in treatments delivered to Nottinghamshire patients.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 11:37 am

The British Dental Association said the pandemic has exacerbated longstanding problems in NHS dentistry, with millions of appointments lost due to ongoing infection control measures.

NHS Digital data reveals 168,000 dental treatments were given to NHS patients in Nottinghamshire between June 2020 and March 2021 – a 72 per cent drop from 601,000 in the same period the previous year.

Among these treatments, 44,800 were delivered to children, down 74 per cent from 170,000 in 2019-20.

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The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on dental care has been laid bare by new figures revealing a slump in treatments delivered to Nottinghamshire patients.

Dental practices were told to halt all routine dental care from March 25 until June 8 last year, when they reopened with strict infection control rules due to Covid-19.

These included leaving time after certain procedures and social distancing requirements.

In January, the Government told NHS dentists they should deliver 45 per cent of their pre-pandemic activity, rising to 60 per cent in April.

But the BDA said capacity across dental services remains low, with about half the NHS practices in England not meeting targets.

Shawn Charlwood, BDA general dental practice committee chairman, said millions are still missing out on dental care and patients will be paying the price for years to come, adding the target-based approach is ‘driving low morale’ among staff.

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‘Pandemic restrictions’

“Dentists in England have had capacity slashed by pandemic restrictions and need help to get patients back through their doors,” he said.

“Sadly, while every other UK nation has committed funds, Westminster chose to impose targets thousands of practices are now struggling to hit.

“But even before Covid there simply wasn't enough NHS dentistry to go around."

Across England, there were 23,700 NHS dentists in 2020-21, 951 fewer than the year before – the first drop in four years.

Sara Hurley, NHS chief dental officer, said urgent care provision had risen to pre-pandemic levels since December.

She said: “It’s inevitable the upheaval caused by Covid has disrupted some people’s dental care, but dentists have been prioritising treatment for patients in urgent need."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The Government continues to support the dental sector and we are working closely with the health service to increase access to NHS dental care as fast as possible.”

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