London worst affected by lockdown dentist closures

03 March 2021
2 min read
Published:

New data released by the NHS has revealed the impact of lockdown-enforced dentist closures in England, with patients in London worst affected as available appointments plummeted to 21 per cent less than 2019.

Almost a year on from the initial government-enforced national lockdown, the NHS has released figures which highlight the significant impact of Covid-19 on dental treatment in England.

Unavoidable practice closures left most of England without regular dental check-ups and attention from March 2020. The latest NHS dental statistics report highlights that 44.5 per cent of the adult population received dental treatment in the 24-month period leading up to December 2020 – 10 per cent lower than the figures reported in the NHS’s previous annual report.

The report also highlights data from child patients seen in the 12-month period leading up to December 2020, this found that only 29.8 per cent of children received dental treatment – just short of a 50 per cent decrease from the previous year’s reported figures.

Emergency dental treatment increased as the government lockdown restrictions were relaxed in June 2020. Patients who may have endured significant pain in waiting lists were able to access treatment from this time.

The latest NHS report reveals that 1,179,415 courses of ‘urgent’ dental treatment were delivered to patients from June to September in 2020, compared to 915,844 in the same time frame in 2019 – an increase of nearly 29 per cent. This increase could suggest that practice closures had an impact on general dental health, with more urgent treatment being required following the first national lockdown.

The Dental Law Partnership – specialist solicitors in the field of dental negligence – has broken down the two latest NHS annual dental statistics reports to highlight the regions worst affected by lockdown.

NHS region

Attendance decrease

Total patients seen

Adult patients seen

Child patients seen

 

 

2019

2020

2019

2020

2019

2020

London

21 per cent

4,000,873

3,134,990

2,991,426

2,610,000

1,009,447

524,990

North west

19 per cent

3,989,454

3,211,818

3,043,399

2,733,580

946,055

478,238

East of England

19 per cent

3,338,108

2,698,510

2,525,336

2,276,333

812,772

422,177

South east

19 per cent

4,210,407

3,398,322

3,115,083

2,809,322

1,095,324

589,000

South west

18 per cent

2,872,916

2,344,041

2,212,594

2,004,699

660,322

339,342

North east and Yorkshire

17 per cent

4,866,544

3,996,468

3,740,660

3,445,215

1,125,884

551,253

Taking into consideration the attendance figures and treatment data from the 2019 and 2020 NHS reports, the Dental Law Partnership found that patients in London NHS local authorities were the most affected by dentist closures and missed appointments. The region experienced a 21 per cent drop in attendance in 2020 when compared to attendance levels reported in the 2019 NHS report.

The north west, east of England and south east also suffered significantly – with previous attendance rates and treatment figures dropping by 19 per cent in 2020.

The north east and Yorkshire appeared to be the least affected by lockdown, with a 17 per cent decrease in attendance.

Commenting on the NHS data, Chris Dean, director at the Dental Law Partnership, said, “Although unavoidable, the drop in dentist attendance during 2020 is certainly troubling. To see some regions impacted as deeply as they have been is a great concern and will undoubtedly lead to further health complications even after restrictions are lifted.

“We hope that as restrictions are relaxed, treatment and appointment availability will increase to pre-covid levels as quickly as possible. No doubt the next few months will be a pressured and stressful time for dentists and surgeries, as they strive to remedy the long delays patients have experienced.”

Patients should still expect to receive the appropriate level of care and treatment from their dentist during this time, if this is not the case or if a treatment has led to further health complications, patients may be entitled to compensation.