Following the NHSE/I letter published on 25th March 2020 confirming that routine face-to-face dental care has been suspended across the country, Jon Cruddas MP this week received reassurance that urgent dental care is available in London. Arrangements have been put in place to ensure patients can access urgent dental care during the pandemic period.

Access to the Urgent Care Hubs

The following process has been implemented in London to ensure patients can access urgent dental care:

• All NHS practices are expected to be providing urgent telephone advice and triage. Anyone with a regular dentist should, as a first step, call their practice. Patients should not visit the practice. The dentist will assess the patient’s condition, give advice, and if needed, issue prescriptions for painkillers or antibiotics which can then be collected from, or delivered by a local pharmacy.

• Anyone without a regular dentist may click HERE to obtain details of a local practice

• If, following triage by a dentist, the patient is assessed as requiring an urgent face-to face treatment, they will be directed to ring 111 where they will be triaged by the Dental Triage service. (Any patient that falls into the above category will be informed that they will be subject to a second layer of triage).

• Following assessment by the Dental Triage Service, if the patients need an onward referral, this will be made to one of the Urgent Dental Care Hubs (dependent on the service available at the time of call). The Urgent Dental Care Hubs will contact the patient, and clinically assess them before any active treatment is offered. This is to ensure they have the correct demographic information and relevant medical history, as well as mitigating any COVID-19 concerns.

• Following remote assessment by the UDCH, if felt clinically appropriate, the patient will be directed to attend for a face-to-face consultation.

Locations of urgent dental centres

Mindful of the large population condensed within a small geography, 31 UDCHs have been commissioned comprising of Acute (Hospital), Community and Primary Care based delivery. The capacity of the providers is dependent on appropriate staffing levels, availability of suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and adequate premises. Based on these criterion, the NHS England Dental, Optometry and Pharmacy Commissioning (London Region) have successfully ensured 2 ‘stood up’ Urgent Dental Care Hubs in Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham and Tower Hamlets.