Pandemic slashes Sunderland dental services
The number of people getting dental treatment in Sunderland plunged by more than two thirds during the pandemic, new figures show.
NHS Digital data reveals 63,500 dental treatments were given to NHS patients in Sunderland between June last year and March this year – a 69% drop from 205,000 in the same period the previous year.
Among these, 11,600 were delivered to children – down 78% from 51,800 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 Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group area, the number of dentists offering NHS treatment rose by five, to 147 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.”