I have been contacted with questions about accessing dental services at this time so I thought it may be helpful to share the following information:
Since social distancing measures for Covid-19 and restrictions on daily activity were introduced, all non-urgent “face to face” dental activity at NHS practices has stopped. Most practices are offering telephone or video-link consultations and can prescribe pain killers and antibiotics if clinically needed.
In light of the public health control measures and in recognition of the difficulties that dental practices face, including continuing concerns about patient and staff safety, NHS England and NHS Improvement has made a number of immediate changes to the delivery and operation of our dental services in the Midlands.
How will triage work?
Telephone triage will be used to decide which care is needed, depending on symptoms and level of pain. Those involved in dental led clinical triage have a detailed operating procedure to help them allocate different dental conditions to the correct care. It is very important for their own safety that patients are clear about whether they have a temperature, are symptomatic, self isolating or in a vulnerable or shielded group.
How do patients access these urgent centres?
People should contact their normal dental practice by phone or contact NHS 111 out of hours. Most NHS dental surgeries will be accessible by phone, even though their doors are shut, and are offering telephone or video-link consultations. They will be able to prescribe pain killers and antibiotics where clinically required. The few patients in need of urgent treatment will be referred to a UDC and once the referral is received the patient will be contacted directly by the service to arrange an appointment if this is needed.
This system also helps manage the flow to centres and avoid queues (in line with social- distancing measures).
People seeking help with dental problems should not attempt to visit A&E departments or GP surgeries for dental care as they will then not be redirected back to a local dentist.
I hope you appreciate that these arrangements have been made at pace to ensure that patients have access to a patient-centred service for the duration of the pandemic. NHS England and NHS Improvement will monitor closely to check these meet the needs of the local population and will take any learning from the Covid-19 incident to help inform the future design, access, resilience and sustainability of dental services.
If you need any further help please contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org