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Access to Dentists during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Powys Community Health Council (CHC) has published a Report about ‘Access to Dentists During the COVID-19 Pandemic’.

CHCs are the independent watchdog of NHS services within Wales and we seek to encourage and enable members of the public to be actively involved in decisions affecting the design, development and delivery of healthcare for their families and local communities.

After hearing from people in Powys about the difficulty in obtaining NHS dental treatment, the Community Health Council undertook some work to understand more about dental services available across Powys.  We asked people to share their views and experiences of NHS dental care through the All Wales CHC survey “NHS Care During Coronavirus Emergency”.  We also carried out a ‘mystery shopper’ exercise to determine the availability of NHS dental services across Powys and we issued a survey to dental practices in Powys, asking them about services being offered.

More than half of the people who responded to our survey told us that they were unable to access an NHS dentist in Powys.  This was confirmed by the results of the ‘mystery shopper’ exercise and the survey of dental practices when dental practices informed us that they were not able to accept new registrations of NHS patient.

The lack of dental services is having a negative impact on people, many of whom are worried that their dental health is deteriorating because they are not able to get the treatment they require.

It is important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted dental practices, particularly the need to ensure safety by putting in place strict infection control measures.  The specific issue of aerosol generating procedures (AGPs), which is a large percentage of the work undertaken by a dentist, means that the number of patients seen in a day is much lower than before the pandemic.

Our report was issued to Powys Teaching Health Board and they have told us about the service changes and developments which have occurred in the last few months.  This includes a dedicated dental telephone helpline to assist patients who require a dentist.  The Health Board has developed an improvement plan and the CHC will be monitoring actions against this plan.

Read our full report here…