Pandemic slashes South Tyneside dental services
The number of people getting dental treatment in South Tyneside plunged by more than two thirds during the pandemic, new figures show.
NHS Digital data reveals 38,700 dental treatments were given to NHS patients in South Tyneside between June last year and March this year – a 69% drop from 126,000 in the same period the previous year.
Among these, 7,050 were delivered to children – down 77% from 30,600 in 2019-20.
Dental practices were told to halt all routine dental care from March 25 until June 8 last year and, in January, the Government told NHS dentists they should deliver 45% of their pre-pandemic activity, rising to 60% in April.
The British Dental Association says the pandemic has exacerbated longstanding problems in NHS dentistry, with capacity remaining low, and around half of practices not meeting targets.
Shawn Charlwood, chairman of the BDA's general dental practice committee, said: "Millions are still missing out on dental care, and patients will be paying the price for years to come.”
"Dentists have had capacity slashed by pandemic restrictions and need help to get patients back through their doors.
"But even before Covid there simply wasn't enough NHS dentistry to go round."
In the NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group area, the number of dentists offering NHS treatment dropped by 16, to 116 over the same period.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The Government continues to support the dental sector and we are working closely with the health service to increase access to NHS dental care as fast as possible.”