Which health services are back after lockdown?

The ‘new normal’ is a phrase we’ve all heard a lot during recent months, but what does this mean for our health services? We take a look at the services that are being switched back on following lockdown, and how you can access them.


Dentistry in Wales is currently in Phase I of a staged return to full services, but routine appointments are not expected to be fully up and running until 2021. While many dental practices remained open during lockdown to provide emergency care, check-ups and treatment such as fillings and orthodontics have been on hold since March. 

Coronavirus is particularly problematic for dentists because of the procedures that generate virus-spreading aerosols, which can put dental staff and patients at increased risk. Phase I, which began in July, allows patients to be assessed for urgent care at their practices, but anyone requiring invasive procedures such as high-speed drilling will still need to be referred to a specialist Urgent Dental Care centre. 

Phase II, from October, will allow practices to address the backlog of need from patients requiring regular dental work, as well as those whose non-urgent treatment has been delayed due to Coronavirus, while Phase III, from January 2021, will see routine assessment and care reinstated. In the meantime, anyone requiring urgent dental treatment or assessment should contact their practice or call NHS 111.


It is now possible to see your optician in Wales, but your visit may be very different to how it was before COVID-19. You may be asked if a phone or video consultation would be suitable instead of a face-to-face appointment and, if you do attend the practice, you might be phoned beforehand for staff to check for any symptoms or a high temperature. 

During an eye examination, your optician will be in PPE and you may also be asked to wear a mask. Equipment and chairs will be disinfected between each customer and you may be offered the option of home delivery of new or repaired glasses. 

Remember that untreated eye problems can lead to serious long-term damage, while eye checks can detect health conditions such as diabetes. If you have any concerns or think you need urgent attention, contact your optometrist or Wales Eye Care Services for further advice. 


Private practice physiotherapists are now able to offer face-to-face appointments again, following guidance from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. According to Nathan Thomas of à Bloc Physiotherapy, the first step is a virtual appointment to see if the client can self-manage the issue. “If not, we then bring the client into the clinic, with full PPE in and strict hygiene measures in place, such as a deep clean of the bed and handles in between each client,” he said. “Each clinic needs to have done a risk assessment of how to enter and exit the facility, and provide hand sanitiser.” 

When it comes to NHS physio services, NHS Wales and local health boards are currently reviewing which services will be resumed, signalling a change from providing only urgent and essential services. 


Inpatient and outpatient services are beginning to return, but what you can access will largely depend on the health board covering your area and the condition you need treatment or advice for. There’s no doubt that services for cancer, for example, have been hugely disrupted by COVID-19 and it will take some time to work through the backlog.

The most important thing to remember is that primary and secondary care services are open to offer advice ahead of potential hospital appointments. You might be offered a phone or video consultation rather than visiting in person, but GPs and community health teams are available to chat about your concerns and refer you to specialist services where necessary. While many patients have been avoiding clinics during the pandemic, the message from Welsh Government and the NHS is clear; seek advice as soon as possible for anything that’s worrying you.


Maternity services have looked very different throughout Coronavirus and, for many, it’s been a worrying and stressful time to be pregnant or become a mum. Fathers and birthing partners in some parts of Wales have not been able to attend scans and pre-natal appointments or to be present throughout labour, with many hospitals and centres inviting partners in only for the final stages of giving birth. Partners have then been asked to leave soon after delivery.

Things are now changing but, again, services vary depending on your area and your health board. Talk to your midwife or health visitor and flag up any concerns you may be feeling about your pregnancy or newborn.

Mental health  

The global pandemic is continuing to impact on the mental health of millions, with almost half the UK population (49.6%) reporting high levels of anxiety since the beginning of Coronavirus and the Office for National Statistics finding that levels of depression have doubled since this time last year.

Support services are available, both virtually and, where appropriate, face to face. Speak with your GP or contact your local Mind or Hafal branch to find out what services are available in your area. If you are very worried about your own mental health or that of someone close to you, contact Samaritans or emergency services. Our guide to looking after your mental health has tips on the small steps you can take to help prevent problems from escalating.

At Plutus Health, we’ve been helping our communities access affordable healthcare for more than 180 years. Our health plans help you keep on top of everyday costs such as dental and optical needs, complementary therapies and hospital fees, preventing minor health issues from becoming major concerns.

Our plans start at just over £2 per week, with options to cover you, your family and your workplace. Get in touch with our team on 01633 266152 or at admin@plutushealth.co.uk

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