Patient in the dentists chair being examined by a dentist wearing blue gloves

Monday 21st June 2021

Here we share the action we are taking on behalf of our RAF families to help them gain access to an NHS dentist:

Access to NHS dentists is a significant national issue, compounded for military families due to the mobile lifestyle. We know this is massive challenge for our families in Brize Norton, in particular – with over 50 issues raised with us from RAF Brize Norton we now have sufficient evidence to take action on your behalf.

Thank you to all the families who have registered an issue around access to dental care with us.

How we are helping RAF families access dental treatment

We are currently working with the Armed Forces Covenant team at MOD on accessing discounted rates for private sector packages. In addition to this, we are working with NHS England to understand if there is anything that can be done to bolster NHS provision in the Brize Norton area.

Note: It is important to understand we cannot currently give families certainty on whether these routes will lead to a resolution of the problem, so please bear this in mind when planning how you access care.

Accessing NHS dental treatment

In order to access dental treatment, we know some families are opting to:

  • stay with previous NHS providers, travelling back annually for check-ups and treatment.
  • pay for monthly paid private care options
  • register as NHS patients with a dentist close to where their extended family live, booking appointments in line with planned visits

Note: Since the implementation of new dental contracts in 2006 patients haven’t been required to be registered with a specific dental practice to receive treatment, patients can choose where they see a dentist. So, unlike GP services, because dentists are private businesses and not directly employed by the NHS, you do not have to go use a dental practice near to where you live.

Accessing Dental Treatment in Oxfordshire

The current Pandemic has compounded the previous challenges to get access to an NHS Dentist. NHS (England) and NHS (Improvements) have put the following in place to improve access across Oxfordshire in answer to the current situation. There a number of priorities that dental practices should be following when seeing patients, these are applicable across NHS (England) these are listed below*.

NHS improvements to accessing Dentists in Oxfordshire

NHS (England) and NHS (Improvement) Funding has been offered to all practices across the South East region to increase access by providing additional sessions outside of their normal contracted hours – for example in the evening or at weekends. These sessions are for patients who do not have a regular dentist and have an urgent need but have experienced difficulty accessing this, or have only been able to receive temporary care (such as AAA, a temporary filling or first stage root treatment) and require further treatment.

There are 16 practices in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire that currently have the staffing levels to safely undertake additional sessions which equates to 133 additional hours per week, specifically for patients that would be new to those practices. The offer of additional sessions remains open so that should other practices subsequently determine they have the staffing levels to safely deliver additional sessions, these will be established.

Should any patient need urgent dental care and the practice that provides this is only able to provide temporary care, they will be able to contact one of the following practices to obtain longer term treatment. This is only for urgent care and these practices will unfortunately not be able to provide routine care:

  • Gentle Dental practice, 6 Chapel Hill, Tilehurst, RG31 5DG 0118 945 2900
  • Burghfield Dental Care, Burghfield Common, Berkshire, 01189 833563
  • Shinfield Dental Centre, Reading, Berkshire, 0118 988 3178
  • Loddon Bridge Road Dental Practice, Reading, Berkshire, 01189 692935
  • Smile Dental Care, Twyford, Berkshire, 01189 321803
  • Moonlight Dental Surgery, Slough, Berkshire, 01753 526301
  • SC Dental Studio, Slough, Berkshire, 01753 550888
  • Smile Dental Care Cippenham, Slough, Berkshire, 01753 577017
  • Linden Dental Surgery, Maidenhead, Berkshire, 01628 621810
  • Busby House Dental Centre, Didcot, Oxfordshire, 01235 816486
  • Bourbon Street Dental Surgery, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, 01296 331100
  • Haddenham Dental, Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, 01844 292118
  • Risborough Dental Practice, Princess Risborough, Buckinghamshire, 01844 345192
  • The Chesham Dentist, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, 01494 776 550
  • Valley Dentalcare, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, 01494 510260
  • Beaconsfield House Dental, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, 01494 730 940

NHS dental priorities

The following prioritisation guidance is being used by practices with the available capacity, recommencing deferred courses of treatment, recall and re-assessments.. Practices should consider prioritising patients:

  • Who have contacted the COVID-19 UDC system and already been triaged for urgent dental care and/or require follow-up care.
  • With incomplete care plans.
  • With frequent recall according to NICE recall guidelines eg children, high oral disease risk, those patients whose oral health impacts on systemic health and those who have been through stabilisation and need review.
  • With routine dental care needs, not applicable to any of the above cohorts.
  • In sequencing and scheduling of patients the aim will continue to be the need to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between staff, patients, patients and staff.

The wider issue

Those of you who follow the news will know access to a NHS dentist is a national issue, certainly not limited to military families – Dentistry: Rising numbers struggling to access NHS care – BBC News.

Image from Getty Images

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