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Over 30 Urgent Dental Care (UDC) hubs have been established across the East of England to provide care for people with urgent and emergency dental problems.
The hubs have been designed to meet the distinct needs of people with urgent dental care needs, while allowing appropriate separation and treatment of patients in line with social distancing measures.
Anyone who needs urgent or emergency dental care should call their regular practice in the first instance. For those who cannot contact their dentist or do not have one, and require urgent care, patients are advised to use the NHS 111 online service available here: https://111.nhs.uk/.
An assessment will be carried out over the phone, and if urgent treatment is required, an appointment will be made at one of the treatment hubs.
Patients with an urgent or emergency dental condition must not attend any clinics before being assessed and given an appointment as they need to be triaged first. This system also helps manage the flow to centres so that social distancing measures can be maintained.
Local Dental Network Chairs Tom Norfolk and Nick Barker, said: “With dental practices now shut, these centres provide urgent dental treatment for those people that need it.
“Dentists wear full personal protection equipment (PPE), and patient flows are managed to ensure social distancing, so that the hubs are safe for both patients and clinicians.
“We continue to review and develop our regional operational procedures to support dentists and ensure patients receive the most safe and appropriate urgent dental care, working with partners to ensure a system-wide collaborative approach.”
Speaking about their experience using the service, patients who attended a hub in Milton Keynes said: “I felt very safe and at ease there… thanks again xx,” and “We are living through challenging times and I really do appreciate all that you have done for me. I am feeling so much better for having that troublesome tooth extracted. My very best wishes and hopes that you keep safe and well.”
Rachel Webb, director of primary care and public health for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the East of England, said: “Since social distancing measures for COVID-19 and restrictions on people’s daily activity were introduced, all non-urgent ‘face to face’ dental activity has stopped; however people still have dental health issues that need urgent attention and need to be able to access the right care.
“In response, we have made a number of changes to the way we deliver our urgent and emergency dental services by setting up over 30 Urgent Dental Care hubs right across the region.
“Each hub has been designed to meet the needs of people who are possible or confirmed COVID-19 patients, those who are shielded, those who are vulnerable or those who do not fit into those categories.”
Speaking to Dentistry about the UDC hubs, chief dental officer, Sara Hurley, said: “The local leadership and co-operation between local dental networks and local dental committees has been exemplified in the east of England.”
- Each patient will be assessed and triaged depending on a number of factors, and their care managed accordingly (either by remote prescribing/advice or where required, by referral to one of the physical urgent dental centres). Patients will only be seen after a referral via the triage system. Drop-ins are not permitted.
- Those involved in triage have a detailed operating procedure to help them allocate different dental conditions to the correct category.
- 32 locations have been chosen to cover the East of England as best as possible, with hubs in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes. The precise locations will not be publicised, as hubs are accessible by referral only; drop-ins are not permitted.