People in need of the most urgent dental care in Northamptonshire can now access one of eight new Urgent Dental Centres (UDCs) which are open across the county.
Since social distancing measures for COVID-19 were introduced, all non-urgent and routine “face to face” dental activity at dental practices in Northamptonshire were stopped.
Patients seeking help with dental problems should not visit their local NHS dental practice in person but instead should phone the practice between the hours of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, for advice on alternative arrangements in place.
For out of hours support, patients can contact NHS 111 during weekday evenings after 5pm, weekends and bank holidays. The few patients in need of urgent treatment will be referred to an urgent treatment centre and given instructions on how to access this. Patients who are not registered with a dentist can search for their nearest dentist at https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-dentist and call them.
Following telephone or video consultation, urgent cases will be referred to one of the new UDC systems which have been established 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 any of these categories.
The UDCs will operate by appointment only following telephone or video triage – there are no walk-in or drop-in appointments in order to ensure the safety of all patients and staff members.
It is very important that patients are clear about whether they have a temperature or any other symptoms of COVID-19, are self-isolating or are in a vulnerable or shielded group, to ensure that they receive support from the appropriate centre.
In addition, people seeking help should not visit A&E departments or GP surgeries for dental care - they will not be seen and will be directed back to their own dental practice or to NHS 111.
Deborah Manger, Deputy Medical Director and Specialist in Special Care Dentistry at Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, said:
“I am pleased that we now have a system in place which enables those with an urgent dental care need during the COVID-19 pandemic access to treatment. It is important that patients can access urgent services and these new urgent dental care centres will provide essential services for those most in need.”
Every member of dental staff will wear full Personal Protective Equipment to protect patients and also themselves. Every surgery will be ventilated and cleaned after each patient to prevent the transmission of the virus ensuring that the services are safe.
For residents who are deaf or hard of hearing, the NHS 111 British Sign Language service is available. Or by calling 18001 111 on a textphone.