Figures reveal drop in dentist visits due to pandemic

Figures reveal drop in dentist visits due to pandemic

Figures reveal drop in dentist visits due to pandemic

The British Dental Association said patient access across England has “fallen off a cliff” since March, warning tens of millions of patients could lose out on dental care.

Routine dentistry was largely suspended in England between March 25 and June 8 – with 600 NHS urgent dental care centres remaining open in their place.

Figures from NHS Digital show 100,106 adults were seen by a dentist in the NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area in the two years to the end of June – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s recommended longest interval between check-ups. It was four per cent fewer than had been seen in the two years to the end of March, around the time the vast majority of dentists were forced to close.

In the Dudley CCG area, 138,516 adults were seen in the two years to the end of June – which was also four per cent fewer than had been seen in the two years to the end of March.

A total of 194,854 adults were seen in the Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG area in the two years to the end of June. It was five per cent fewer than had been seen in the two years to the end of March. The figures show 97,621 adults were seen by a dentist in the Walsall CCG area in the two years to the end of June – which was four per cent fewer than had been seen in the two years to the end of March.

In the Stafford and Surrounds CCG area, 55,413 adults were seen in the two years to the end of June. It was four per cent fewer than had been seen in the two years to the end of March.

And, a total of 55,494 adults were seen by a dentist in the Cannock CCG area in the two years to the end of June – four per cent fewer than had been seen in the two years to the end of March.

Between the end of March and the end of June, the number of adults seen by dentists across England in the last two years fell by 4 per cent – from 21.8 million to 21.0 million.

But the British Dental Association warns the latest statistics do not fully show the “unprecedented fall in access” driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. It said Freedom of Information requests indicated access to the urgent dental care network was just over two per cent of the normal level of activity, and recent surveys suggest the overwhelming majority of practices are still operating at less than a quarter of their former capacity.

Dave Cottam, chair of the BDA’s general dental practice committee, said: “This is data is from another era. Since March patient access has fallen off a cliff, and there is no certainty when or if it can be restored. Access was in a bad place pre-pandemic.

“We have practices struggling, and tens of millions of patients need somewhere to go. We need government to work with us to rebuild capacity.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Twenty-one million adults were seen by a dentist in the last two years up to June and we are working closely with NHS England to improve access across the country.”

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