Across Greater Manchester, local Healthwatch organisations recorded 102 enquiries regarding NHS dentistry in 2019/20. That figure increased to 650 in the period April 2020 to March 2021. A six-fold increase.
Feedback from the public was analysed by theme. Whilst some enquiries raised concern regarding more than one theme, only 2.3% of overall enquiries in 2020/21 related to treatment, cost or health screening alone. 97.7% of enquiries raised issues of accessibility.
All services have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore it is reasonable to make an assumption that both the increase in enquiries and the concerns regarding accessibility have some correlation with the way services have responded. The greatest proportion of enquiries were recorded in Spring 2021 - during the longest and most recent lockdown in England (38.3% of all enquiries).
We continue to get feedback from local people about how difficult they find it is to get NHS dental care. We fully support the national recommendations made by Healthwatch England: Dentistry during COVID-19 insight briefing
In addition, our findings were reported to the local government and Debbie Abrahams MP has provided a formal response to the current dental situation. You can access this below.