Inequalities in access to NHS primary care dental services in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic

Abodunrin Q. Aminu, Alex D. McMahon, Claire Clark, Andrea Sherriff, Caroline Buchanan, Chris Watling, Ahmed Mahmoud, Shauna Culshaw, William MacKay, Megan Gorman, Raymond Braid, Maura Edwards, David I. Conway*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Introduction This study aimed to quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access and inequalities in primary care dental services among children and adults in Scotland.Methods Access was measured as any NHS Scotland primary care dental contacts derived from administrative data from January 2019 to May 2022, linked to the area-based Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation for children and adults, and related to population denominator estimates from National Record Scotland. Inequalities for pre-pandemic (January 2019-January 2020) and recent (December 2021-February 2022, and March 2022-May 2022) periods for both children and adults were calculated and compared using the slope index of inequality and relative index of inequality.Results Following the first lockdown (March 2020) there was a dramatic fall to near zero dental contacts, followed by a slow recovery to 64.8% of pre-pandemic levels by May 2022. There was initial widening of relative inequalities in dental contacts in early 2022, which, more recently, had begun to return to pre-pandemic levels.Conclusion COVID-19 had a major impact on access to NHS primary dental care, and while inequalities in access are apparent as services recover from lockdown, these inequalities are not a new phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Early online date24 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2023

Keywords

  • access
  • dental services
  • primary care
  • socioeconomic inequalities

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