October 2, 2020

Science File

Healthy life is yours

Dental information during pandemic ‘inconsistent and confusing’, says health watchdog

The dental information provided by some dental services during the pandemic was ‘inconsistent and confusing’, a health watchdog reports.

This is according to a COVID-19 review by Healthwatch, looking into the NHS and social care experiences of the UK public.

This report covers the period April to June 2020, based on experiences of more than 19,700 people.

Additionally, ‘How can you find an NHS dentist?’ was the third most viewed article on a health information website during the most severe parts of the pandemic.

Between April and June 2020, the page – hosted on Healthwatch England – racked up more than 6,100 unique page views.

Inconsistent and confusing

The page ‘How can you find an NHS dentist?’ fell behind just two other pages:

  • What does shielding mean? – 49,327 unique page views
  • What’s the difference between social distancing and self-isolation? – 11,210 unique page views

Other highly-viewed pages focus on issues such as mental health, making a complaint and end of life care.

The report says the information released on dentistry in response to the pandemic was ‘inconsistent and confusing’. It adds that even before COVID-19, it heard from many patients who were struggling to find a dentist.

No option but to go private

‘In June, as dental practices started to reopen for routine appointments, we heard that the information being provided from some services was inconsistent or confusing, leaving people unsure about whether they were running again, and what treatment would be available,’ it states.

‘Some people reported being told to call their dental practice by NHS 111, only to be redirected back to NHS 111 by the dental practice’s voicemail message.’

It adds that since July, people have reported having ‘no option but to go private’ if they want to receive non-emergency treatment.

You can read the report here.


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