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In the news week commencing 1 June 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 1 June.



Sunday 7 June

BBC Radio Merseyside: ‘Welcoming some patients back from Monday’
BBC Radio Merseyside evening news on 7 June discussed dentists opening from Monday and said that the full range of treatments and appointments were unlikely to take place. Mark Woodger, BDA spokesperson and Honorary Secretary of the Mid-Mersey LDC, said:   “We have been working really hard this week to get everything ready for welcoming some patients back from Monday. Not all practices are going to be able to open from Monday, but as many as possible are going to try to open their doors for some face-to-face emergency visits”. He explained the problem of AGPs and the need for caution, as the way the water spray affects the transmission of coronavirus is not yet fully understood. He discussed the limitation on the supply chain for PPE and explained that UDC centres will continue to be open to do emergency treatments. He highlighted the BDA’s figures that 1/3 of practices will open from Monday, but said others will take a little bit longer to get ready safely.

Not available online
 
BBC Radio London: ‘A real challenge for dental practices’ opening from 8 June

Head of BDA Indemnity Len D’Cruz spoke to BBC Radio London about the prospect of dentists reopening from 8 June, highlights the BDA’s survey that shows only 1/3 are ready to get back to work. Len said: “I’m looking forward to getting back to it… we’ve been triaging patients, it’s very frustrating as we haven’t been able to do routine care and have had to transfer patients onto UDC centres….it’s hard as these are patients that we know and have looked after for years.”  The presenter said he couldn’t understand why dental surgeries closed. Len explained that the CDO in England decided to restrict treatments due to concerns over the spread of the virus, especially via AGPs, and the frustration in the slow setting up of the UDC centres in the early stages, which left patients in pain and resorting to DIY dentistry. He discussed the need for patients having to be pre-screened, as Covid positive patients can’t be seen, and the issues around seeing asymptomatic patients, as well as the need for social distancing, the challenge of getting the higher-grade PPE and fit testing.

Listen at 02:44



Saturday 6 June

Daily Telegraph: Only a third of dental clinics are to reopen next week

The Daily Telegraph on 6 June highlighted the BDA’s survey results, showing that only 36% of dental practices in England will be ready to resume appointments from 8 June. The piece features comments from BDA Chair Mick Armstrong and says that the BDA warns that social distancing and decontamination measures will result in longer appointments and therefore fewer patients being seen, it says one dentist told the BBC that he would normally see up to 60 patients on an average day, but would now be limited to about five. Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: “The reopening of dental practices is welcome, but it is vital that this doesn’t risk the health of dentists, patients and staff.”

Subscription only

Times: Coronavirus in Scotland: Glasgow dentists threatened with legal action by local NHS health board
Dentists in Glasgow have been warned they could face legal action for treating patients with non-urgent needs during lockdown, according to the Times. As dental practices prepare to reopen, those in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area yesterday received a letter from the board’s oral health directorate threatening to report to the police dentists who breached lockdown measures. The communique said that the NHS could “consider referral to the police or to the General Dental Council if there is evidence to suggest that there is a breach of lockdown measures in relation to non-urgent dental care being undertaken”.  While the health board does not hold any jurisdiction over private dental practices, all other practices which are partly or fully publicly-funded must approach the health board ahead of reopening. The board stressed in a follow-up email that it would only resort to legal action in “extreme circumstances” where it believed there was a danger to patient safety and that the warning of referral was advice received directly from its central legal office.


Friday 5 June

BBC1 Breakfast: Empty surgeries and patients left in pain, while dentistry felt the lockdown more than most

BBC One Breakfast on Friday morning featured a segment on the reopening of practices from 8 June, with a number of dentists talking about the challenges ahead in delivering dentistry. It said the BDA highlighted that many practices won’t be ready in time as the advice came so late and that they won’t have time to meet the criteria - and patients are being warned not to expect ‘business as usual’ when visiting the dentist. It quoted new data from the BDA that around 2/3 of practices in England will not be opening on 8 June. Their reporter went to a practice in Birmingham, which he described as ‘looking like a building site’, saying that there is a real frustration amongst dentists and he’d never spoken to so many patients desperate to get back into a dental chair. He interviewed dentist, Mike Ehrlich, who said: “Unfortunately there won’t be any patients here. We are hoping in a week’s time we might be able to start seeing some of our own emergencies or doing some very basic dental treatment. Normal dental treatment is not going to be happening for a very long time. This waiting room is going to be empty for months”. He said that he would normally see 50-60 patients a day, but now thinks it will be 5 a day, and that said costs are spiralling, and the cost of PPE is up 1000%. The story also features a ‘video wall’ with several dentists across England expressing their issues and frustrations. Yasmin George said: “We can’t get PPE. We don’t have key worker status, childcare is a massive problem, we want to see our patients. I’ve had patients shouting at me on the phone because they want to get their treatment finished. I’ve wanted to leave dentistry, I just thought, why am I bothering?”.
 
Sky News: “We are opening at a loss’
Sky News at 10 on Friday featured a story on the reopening of dentists from 8 June. It said most dentists won’t be ready and that the BDA says just 1/3 will reopen on Monday, with most surgeries lacking sufficient PPE to be able to offer face to face care and that only 15% of dentists will be able to offer a full range of treatment. It featured a story of a patient who has been waiting for weeks to get a filling done, but has been told her dentist won’t be opening yet, she said: “…to be fair to the dentist she sounds as frustrated as I am.” The report said that even when dentists are fully open, there is a question on how viable their businesses will be. Private dentist Ahmad Nounu said he usually treats 150 patients a week and will only be able to see about a quarter of that. He added that: ‘We are opening at a loss’.

Not available online
 
BBC1 Yorkshire: “The Government has shown no long-term commitment to dentistry’
BDA Chair Mick Armstrong was interviewed at BBC1 Yorks, Look North on 5 June, discussing why many dental practices won’t be ready to open on 8 June. He said, “It’s down to a shortage of PPE and the short notice we’ve had about the reopening.” When asked why practices weren’t more prepared, he said: “We gave all our existing stocks of PPE away early in the pandemic,” and highlighted that private practices are facing the same difficulties getting PPE, due to the inflated costs of equipment. He said: “Because of the procedures we carry out, which require more preparation and cleaning after the surgery, that reduces our ability to treat numbers of patients, so whilst we are open, it will not be business as normal." He said that is it important that patients contact their practice by phone first and then will be given appointments if urgent. When asked about the financial viability of practices, he said: “We still have the same overheads, but also have increased costs of PPE. The Government has shown no long-term commitment to investing in dentistry and supporting us, especially the private sector and it’s inevitable…that practices will go bankrupt.” On when dentistry will get back to normal, he said: “…it could be many months before anything like routine care as patients once knew it. People need routine care to maintain oral health, and if they are not able to access it….that bodes poorly, and I can’t see anything but it deteriorating”.

Not available online
 
ITV News: Dentists warn patients that reopening next week does not mean business as usual
ITV News on 5 June reported on reopening of dental practices from 8 June and featuring a segment with dental practices in Essex getting fitted for masks. Nick Barker, Chair of the Essex LDC said “It's not a light bulb moment. It's not just turning on the switch - yesterday we're not working and today we are. The transition is very much trying to facilitate patients getting back into the care that they need, but we know there's going to be a gradual shift where urgent care is up here and will drop down and routine care is down here and will gradually shift over.” The programme highlighted the extra safety measures needed and the issues securing the right PPE. It said BDA has warned that people will return to a 'skeleton service’.

 
BBC London News: More than half of dental surgeries in London won’t reopen from 8 June
BBC London News reported on Thursday night the reopening from 8 June. It highlighted the BDA’s data which shows that more than half of surgeries in London won’t be opening on Monday. The story featured a patient in severe dental pain. Showing Matt Hancock’s announcement last week that surgeries were set to open from the 8th, the programme says most dentists don’t think they were given enough time to prepare and need more Government assistance to be able to get up and running.

Not available online
 
ITV 1 Tyne Tees North: ‘You are going to get more and more horror stories…’
ITV 1 Tyne Tees North last night interviewed BDA Board member Paul Woodhouse on the reopening from 8 June. He said that practices in the North are struggling to get the right PPE to enable them to open safely. He said that it is a nationwide problem, with 10,000 dental practices trying to source PPE and said he thinks practices will only open at 25% capacity. The programme highlighted patients turning to DIY dentistry with patients trying to do own fillings or pulling out teeth without any equipment. Paul said: “You are going to get more and more horror stories, and more people suffering trying to fix themselves up. I’ve got patients who are halfway through treatments and their situations are deteriorating on a daily basis, we need to get them in, but we need the PPE to do that.” The report said the Government says its 550 urgent dental treatment centres will remain open, and that it will be a gradual reopening of dental surgeries.

Not available online
 
BBC One East Midlands: ‘We can’t do treatments the way we were before lockdown’
BBC One East Midlands yesterday evening featured Leicester dentist, Philip Martin, Chair of the BDA East Midlands discussing the news of reopening from 8 June and what he’s done to get his practice ready to see patients. The programme highlighted the need for extra protective gear, as dentists work so close to patients. On the reopening date, Philip said: “The first we knew of it was at 6pm on the news, the profession wasn’t informed in advance, it came as a complete shock to all of us. We knew it had to come at some point, but we’d just been told to get back on Monday and no real information for patients about what they can expect.” He said they won’t be doing any drilling: “We are not going to be doing check-ups, scale and polishing, we will not be able to do fillings crowns or treatment in the way we would be doing prior to lockdown.” He showed the work they have done, getting builders in to make new areas for staff to change in safely, installing laundry facilities, all of which the presenter notes, is “off the surgeries own back”. Philip said: “We were only given full instructions on what we need to do this week, for the standards were required to meet”  and that many dentists are going to struggle to be ready in time.

Not available online
 
BBC Radio Gloucestershire: ‘In a real scramble to get PPE…’
BDA Vice-Chair Eddie Crouch spoke to BBC Radio Gloucestershire about the news that dentists would be reopening from the 8 June, he said: “Many colleagues were completely unaware of the announcement until they saw it on the Prime Ministers briefing. I think the communication to the profession has been poor, the expectation and the communication to patients has been quite poor too. Many changes will need to be made to the surgeries to make sure that the through-flow of patients is safe for everyone. Many colleagues are in a real scramble to get PPE. NHS England says dentists were told they could reopen in the same way as all other guidance during the pandemic and that it is working to support practices to provide safe and appropriate care.

Not available online
 
‘We haven’t had the support we need’

Various local BBC Radio stations, not listed above, featured BDA Vice-Chair Eddie Crouch about the reopening date for dentists on Monday, he said: “We are in a situation where many of my colleagues are really quite stressed by the timelines given to actually deliver face to face services again for patients. We’ve been delighted that we’ve given that opportunity, but we haven’t really had the support we need. Many colleagues are reporting that Monday as a deadline for reopening is something they won’t be able to hit’. The report highlighted the BDA’s survey of 2000 practices, which suggests only 1/3 will be ready to carry out routine appointments on Monday.

Not available online



Thursday 4 June


BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire: ‘You won’t be able to ring a practice and ask for a check-up’

BDA vice chair, Eddie Crouch appeared on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire Breakfast this morning discussing the issues facing dentists reopening from 8 June. He said that the BDA is currently investigating how many dentists may be able to open from next week, and the problems sourcing PPE and getting staff back to work safely. He also highlighted the backlog of patients that dentists are going to have to triage, he said: “The NHS estimates about 40,000 patients a day were being triaged by dental practices, that’s an average of four patients per practice, every single day, so over 12 weeks, that's a significant backlog to get through. In February most practices used to see 30 patients a day, but we are now looking at only 8/10 a day, so we are only delivering a third of the service… so on Monday morning, you won’t be able to ring the local practice and ask for a check-up.” He also discussed the increase in safety measures that will be required to keep both dental teams and patients safe.

 

Not available at the time of writing

 

The Telegraph: Dentists to reopen in the UK on June 8 - how will appointments change?
The Telegraph advises its readers that when dentists reopen on June 8, it will not be business as usual. Dentists in the UK will have to follow "return to work" guidance given by chief dental officer Sara Hurley [sic] on May 28. Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA, said, "Dentists will be keen to start providing care as soon as safely possible, but we will need everyone to be patient as practices get up and running."  The article cites orthodontics specialist Emma Laing, who anticipates that dentistry in the UK will follow a similar line to the US situation where patients fill in a health questionnaire, and (if fit) attend the appointment (solo), waiting outside until their appointment before being greeted by someone who will take their temperature. Patients will wash their hands before and after any treatment, and payments will be either contactless or by bank transfer. Appointments are expected to be scheduled only over the phone or online. Some dentists speculate that use of aerosol-generating equipment may be prohibited, at least initially. A decontamination period of 30 minutes is expected between appointments: this will mean fewer patients per day. "We would typically see 10 patients a day," says Mervyn Druian from the London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry. "Currently, however, we are looking at a maximum of four or five patients a day." It is expected that emergency treatment will take priority. Because of the backlog of emergency treatment, fewer available appointments and a potential ban on aerosol procedures, it'll be a while before routine check-ups are available every day.

 

The Telegraph states that dentists are expected to wear full medical-grade PPE. Some dentists have expressed fears of having to add a PPE surcharge to each bill. "Each gown is $5 and needs to be thrown away after each patients, and our total PPE cost per patients is £25," says Dr Druian.  It is expected that practices will have Perspex shields to protect receptionist, and new floor markings and signage. Sara Hurley's return to work guidelines state that waiting rooms should not have magazines, TV remotes or toys, and chairs should be two metres apart (although patients should be encouraged to wait outside).

 

The Times: Coronavirus in Scotland - Lack of PPE for dentists delays return

Dental practices in Scotland will not be reopening on Monday to NHS patients, contrary to some press reports. The Times today notes that discussions on a re-opening date are ongoing in the Scottish government and quotes a British Dental Association spokesman as saying that the Scottish chief dental officer will be writing soon to all dentists providing an indicative timetable of when reopening can commence. The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has advised its 7,000 members not to reopen unless they felt they had sufficient PPE. Michael Griffin, the President, noted that dentists were dealing with patients mouths and therefore fully exposed to any covid-19 positive patients.

 

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: I suspect a lot of practices won’t be ready by Monday

Martin Fallowfield, a dentist in a private practice in Peterborough, spoke to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire last night about the news that dental practices can reopen from 8 June. Martin said: “That came as a bit of a shock to all of us. I was hearing last night even the BDA didn’t know about that until about half an hour before it flashed across the bottom of the screen. I suspect a lot of practices won’t be ready by next Monday, we certainly won’t. We have been putting a lot of things in place, trying to source the right PPE and making changes to the practice…I expect a lot of our colleagues won’t be ready either.” He discussed the equipment and procedures needed to open, including purchasing PPE, including perspex screens in reception, bigger gaps between patients. He talked to the presenter about the need for increased safety measures: “How we are going to protect both our patients, from each other, but also my team. We have put a lot of thought into how we will deal with that. We work less than one metre away from patients…therefore…most of us will be wearing visors as well as masks, and the type of masks that are difficult to source, are the ones that need fit testing, they have been are virtually impossible to source as a dental practice, as they have - quite rightly - been directed to NHS and care homes. our regular supplier, would not entertain supplying us, because all of their supplies are going to the frontline.” He said there is no real clarity from Government on what they are expecting, they’ve said to practices that every practice has to do a risk assessment. He said their practice will be opening in phased stages, with reception team going back on 18 July, and the dentists will be doing emergency-only treatment, but they hope to open from July, but won’t be doing AGPs until later on. He talked about the added problems for NHS dental practices working under the UDA system, saying “…it’s a dead duck” and won’t be able to carry on under the new way of working.

 

Listen at 35:00.



Wednesday 3 June

BBC Radio Good Morning Ulster: Lack of clear timelines and PPE mean slow start for NI dentistry

BBC Radio Good Morning Ulster discussed the phased return of dental services, which is set to come in from next Monday. This included an interview with a patient and Richard Graham, chair of the BDA's Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee. The patient, who couldn't get a referral to a UDC centre for her dental pain and after 'googling' various DIY treatments, said: "There isn't a lot of help out there, it's very frustrating." She said her dentist also works in Dublin and she managed to get an appointment for treatment with him there, as they are doing full treatments, saying she can't understand why she can't get treatment in Northern Ireland. Richard said: "The Department of Health have put through a road map with all the different phases in it and we are really only moving next Monday into phase 1B, which is where…. we will be able to see the patients, do a more definitive diagnosis, so the UDC centre can then carry out whatever procedure is needed….when I've been working at the UDC, sometimes we don't know exactly what the problem is, so we have to go in prepared to do nearly everything. And everything you take into the surgery with you has to be destroyed afterwards, so it's leading to a lot of waste." The presenter noted that 95% of all dental treatments are AGPs, including an examination. Richard said: "It's extremely challenging …  we've been told it's going to be dependent on a number of things, including the epidemiological indices, which I assume is the R number, supply and demand of PPE, which is a massive problem. Because at the start of this emergency, dentists were asked to donate their PPE to care homes, community pharmacies, which many of them did, they are now trying to source the same PPE items and finding there's been a 400-1000% increase in the prices of these items in some cases. Richard also said he heard that delivery of these could take up to six weeks.

 

Listen at 1:12

 

LBC Radio: We are not part of the NHS supply chain to source PPE and dentists will be down at least 25% in ability to treat patients

Head of BDA Indemnity, Len de Cruz spoke to LBC's Nick Ferrari today discussing the challenges facing practices as they set to reopen on 8 June. Len said: "It's been a torrid sort of eight to nine weeks. We are in a good place now because we have real progress, we've got a timetable for the restoration of care in the high street. But the sudden announcement that we are back to work from 8 June, was a bolt from the blue from Matt Hancock last week. The big issue for us is getting prepared. You may say we should have been prepared, Len said, but we have issues in getting the right PPE…the right type of masks, we need FFP3 masks, which we need to use because we create aerosols, which are particularly dangerous for dentists and staff…" He highlighted the problem of sourcing a supply of PPE and the inflated pricing: "We're not going to have enough of them. The supply chain has gone to front line staff…we are at the back of the queue for it, so practices have to access it themselves. We are not part of the NHS supply chain, and we are small businesses. Prices have gone up from 38p to £38 - disposal masks, visors, gloves, gowns, all [those items] we didn't necessarily need before but need now." He said it will have a huge impact on dentists businesses and the challenge of finding fit testers, to ensure all staff are kept safe. The presenter asked how many practices are likely to be back seeing patients from 8 June, Len said:  "The BDA are doing that research right now, and we hope to get that information out in the next 24/48 hours. But we already know that dentists will be down at least 25% down in their ability to treat patients, because of social distancing, the downtime needed between surgeries, so the actual patient flow is going to be lower." Len said he had 100 calls to his practice yesterday for people requesting both urgent and routine care.

 

Not available online

 
Telegraph: Some insurers have paid out on business interruption claims as the threat of legal action loomed

As the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), prepares legal action against insurers over Covid payouts, the Telegraph reports that some insurers decided to pay out as the threat of legal action looms. The article also includes commentary solicitors Brown Rudnick, the firm advising us on this matter, with respect to potential claims from dentists.  Judges will be asked to rule on whether business interruption insurance policies sold by the likes of Hiscox, RSA and Zurich cover losses caused by Covid-19 and the nationwide lockdown.  Businesses have been locked in battle with insurers over the meaning of ambiguous wordings in policy documents, with billions of pounds and thousands of livelihoods at stake. Insurers argue they never intended to cover losses from a global pandemic and that doing so would be financially ruinous, sending them to the brink of bankruptcy.

 

The FCA, which is pursuing the court case, said: "A number of the relevant insurers decided to accept claims from policyholders with certain policies which included particular wordings which had previously been in dispute." Policies were chosen for inclusion in the test case based on whether they represent "key arguable issues" between policyholders and insurers rather than on the market share of the insurers that sold them.

 

Some businesses are concerned that the FCA case will not bring the certainty they require, with many taking separate legal action of their own. Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association (BDA), said that the FCA's "one size fits all" approach failed to take into account the unique challenges faced by some industries. Ravi Nayer, a solicitor at Brown Rudnick which is representing the BDA, said the FCA's announcement gives no comfort over whether challenges facing the healthcare sector will be taken into account by the court. Dentists were forced to stop offering many routine treatments but were not included in a break from business rate payments offered to most firms on the high street.  Mr Nayer said: "The context is necessary to achieve a fair outcome."

 

BBC 1 South Today: Where are dentists in the queue for PPE?

Our spokesperson, Phil Gowers, appeared on BBC 1 South Today last night, answering viewers' questions on dentistry in the run up to dental practices opening in England on Monday. Phil was asked how long it would take to get an appointment, to which he replied that he could not provide a definitive answer and it related to when they could get PPE, but he also cautioned viewers that the news situation would be far from 'business as normal'. He expressed concern about the challenges of sourcing PPE and wondered where dentists are in the queue for this: "the back of the queue, or even forgotten altogether"? On the issue of who will pay dentists for PPE and the additional cleaning required when dental practices open, Phil said that private practices might apply a surcharge for this but the NHS could not, and he appealed to Department of Health to support dentists in this; he warned that seven out of 10 practices were facing bankruptcy. Phil was also asked whether dentists would be tested for Covid19, he said they were regarded as key workers and therefore could be tested, and he also reassured viewers that dentists excel in infection control measures.

A final question related to those who have suffered interrupted treatment and the questioner was assured as long as they brushed their teeth and did not consume too much sugar, they should be fine.

 

Not available online

 
BBC Radio Cumbria: Dentist only became aware of practices re-opening after a patient called to make an appointment

This morning the Breakfast programme on BBC Radio Cumbria cited commentary from BDA in its 6.30am news bulletin in connection with the Government's announcement that dental practices would be opening in England next week, and throughout this morning. The BDA said the news came as a bolt from the blue and left dentists with very little time to reopen within the practice guidelines. The news bulletin also noted that we had raised concerns about the lack of PPE, and included a short statement from NHS England that dental practices should only re-open if it is safe to do so. Cumbrian dentist, John Lewis said he was extremely surprised by the news, since dentists hadn't been informed in advance of the news being announced to the public, and he only became aware of this after a patient phoned to make an appointment. Commenting on Breakfast, our vice chair, Eddie Crouch, said there was a real scramble for dentists to get PPE and many changes have to be made to dental practices to make it a safe throughput for patients.

 

Not available online

 

BBC TV Wales: Routine dentistry may not return to Wales until January 2021

Chair of the Welsh General Dental Committee, Tom Bysouth's comments featured throughout the day, including on BBC TV Wales Today, which outlined the Welsh government strategy, whereby there might not be a return to routine care until January 2021. Phase One, July to September, would see a continuation of urgent dental care. Phase Two, October to December, would see dentists concentrating on dealing with the backlog of treatment caused by the crisis. Phase Three, January to March, would see a return to routine treatment. Tom  explained that there would be a slow return to treatment and that dentists were concerned over the long timescale before the return to routine practice, especially in the context of dentists in England returning to treatment, much more quickly. He also said it was important to keep the evidence under review. The Welsh Chief Dental Officer appeared and said there were issues over how to treat patients, but stated the situation was under constant review.

 

Netdoctor: Practices can only stay afloat with ongoing support

Netdoctor provides a detailed outline of how dental appointments are likely to change when they re-open on 8 June. The article features extensive quotes from the BDA, including this warning from BDA chair, Mick Armstrong that not all practices may reopen on this date. He said that while dentists would be relieved by the announcement, practices should be allowed to decide for themselves when they are ready to open, based on the availability of personal protective equipment. Dentists can open their doors but won't be able to provide a full range of care without the necessary kit. Longer term, practices can only stay afloat with ongoing support, while social distancing continues and the costs of providing care are sky high.'

The article also included tips from dentist Richard Marques on how to maintain good oral health.



Tuesday 2 June


BBC Radio Wales: Routine dentistry unlikely to take place in Wales before next January 

BDA chair of the Welsh General Dental Committee, Tom Bysouth was interviewed this morning on BBC Radio Wales following the Welsh Government’s announcement of timelines for the phased return to dentistry, with routine dentistry not expected to restart until next January. BBC New Online reported that the first phase - from July to September - would see more of a role for UDCs but with patients re-assessed in the practices they normally attend.  In the second phase - from October to December - practices would be allowed to address the backlog of need from patients who require regular dental work, as well as those who have had non-urgent treatment delayed or postponed. Only during the third phase - from January to March 2021 - would routine assessment and care be reinstated.

 

Commenting in response, Tom said this was "a great concern" to some in the profession. "It's important to reassure people that dentists have always been very good at cross-infection control," he said. "There are very good, robust policies in place to make sure patients and the team are protected." Tom emphasised the importance of routine appointments, adding that dentists screen patients for a wide variety of conditions - including tooth decay, gum disease and mouth cancer.

 

The article highlights a difference in policy in Wales and England, such as the fact that Welsh practices have been allowed to keep seeing some patients face-to-face throughout the coronavirus restrictions.

 

The Sun: Lack of notice means many dentists have no time to prepare

The Sun reports that dentists could stay shut over a fear of a lack of safety equipment. Practices have been given the green light to open, but Mick Armstrong, Chair of the BDA, warns that the suddenness of the announcement means that many dentists will not have had sufficient time to prepare. The Edinburgh Royal College of Surgeons commented variations in supplies of Person Protective Equipment could lead to a postcode lottery.

 

The Mirror: Lack of PPE could keep dentists shut

The Mirror reports that lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) may mean that dental practices remain shut when they can begin to open from the 8th June. Phil Taylor, the incoming dental chief of the Royal College of Surgeons, said that practitioners needed assurance that PPE would be available at that date. Mick Armstrong, Chief of the British Dental Association, said that last week’s announcement was a ‘bolt from the blue’ and left dentists with no time to prepare.

 

Daily Mirror, 2/6/20, not available online

 

Asian Image: Dental Leaders say some practices will not be able to re-open next week

The article from Asian Image reports that new guidance has been published by the Faculty of General Dental Practice on how dental practices can safely re-open from the 8 June. There is concern amongst the dental community that the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) would lead to a postcode lottery of services in England, with some areas having large numbers of dental practices open and others very few. There is also concern for BAME patients, who seem to be more vulnerable to the virus. Mick Armstrong, BDA chair, is quoted as saying that the dental profession received no warning about the re-opening happening so quickly. He noted practices will have to ensure they have sufficient PPE and implement social distancing measures. The limited number of patients that can now be seen and the increased costs from implementing safety measures are likely to threaten the long-term viability of many dental practices. 



Monday 1 June


Daily Telegraph: Dentists to reopen in the UK on June 8 but how will appointments change?
The Daily Telegraph today reports on what to expect when dentists reopen in the UK on 8 June, citing our Chair Mick Armstrong’s comments: “A return of high street dentistry will be welcome news to millions of patients left with few options during lockdown. Dentists will be keen to start providing care as soon as safely possible, but we will need everyone to be patient as practices get up and running.” The report says the latest guidance will mean your traditional dental appointment is set to change, including needing to fill out patient information forms in advance and/or online, patients washing hands, the need for at least 30-minutes turnaround time between patients to allow for deep cleans and what range of treatments might be available.

Subscription required

Daily Mail Scotland: No check-ups at the dentist ‘until 2021’
The Daily Mail in Scotland featured our Vice-Chair Eddie Crouch’s comments on the resumption of face-to-face dental care from 8 June. The article said there is likely to be ‘huge backlog of urgent cases’ according to the BDA, due to clinics only being able to see a few patients per day. Eddie is quoted, as saying: ‘I’ve never been more worried about the profession and the care for patients. Every day I hear horror stories. Yesterday I found out about a four-year-old girl who had been admitted to hospital with swelling going into the throat and into the eye as a result of an abscess. The mother had tried desperately to get help and support. Other people have taken their own teeth out, it’s barbaric stuff.” The report also says the Scottish Government’s national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, has said a reopening of normal practices in Scotland is not likely for a few weeks yet. 

Not available online

Daily Mail: Grieving dentist sues Matt Hancock over his father's death from Covid-19 
The Daily Mail reported on 31 May on the case of dentist Minesh Talati who is suing Matt Hancock over the Covid-19 death of his father, Dr Navin Talati. The dentist fears he inadvertently infected his father and mother Aravinda along with his pregnant wife, Joanne, because he followed ‘erroneous’ Government advice published on the PHE website.

BBC Radio Newcastle: ‘People are suffering and we want to get back to work’
BBC Radio Newcastle Drive on 29 May highlighted the issues dentists are facing when resuming work on 8th June. It said many practices are worried that they won’t be ready and certain treatments will not be available. Commenting, Paul Woodhouse, our board member says he’s been hearing real horror stories during lockdown “…you’ve got people extracting teeth with pliers, raking around trying to clear own decay out…imagine the worst possible scenario and that’s the story that is being spoken by people out there. It’s terrible, people are suffering and we want to get back to work as soon as possible and we want to do it safely so patients can get the care need, in the best way possible.” He also said: “Funding is a real problem. We’ve had nothing in England about how funding is going to go forward for NHS practices. Private practices can pass on increased costs to patients, but NHS practices can’t and, as a frame of reference, the standard mask I would normally wear has gone from £1.50 for a box of 50 masks to £25.”

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ITV1 Central West: “I cannot wait ….to get into a dentist’s chair and have my tooth drilled again”.
ITV1 Central West news featured a story on the reopening of dental practices on 8 June and cases of DIY dentistry. It said that we share concerns over shortages of PPE, saying many practices won't be able to open without it. They report that the BDA wants the government to include dentistry in its wider strategy to help them get back to work. The reporter said the Department for Health and Social Care made a statement that ‘…dentistry is on the supply priority list and we have established new distribution routes for the sector, to ensure continuity of supply across all UDC centres.” The programme featured a patient who couldn’t find a dentist and took pliers to own mouth. She said: “I cannot wait - and I’d never thought I’d say that - to get into a dentist’s chair and have my tooth drilled again”.

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Derry Daily: Coronavirus: “We need clear guidance on reopening’, says Derry dentist
The Derry Daily reported today that a dentist has called on the Stormont Executive to issue clear guidance for dental practices in Northern Ireland for when they are told they can reopen. Dentist Peter Hughes said it may not be “appropriate for the foreseeable future” for dental practices to reopen in the country. But he also stressed the importance of getting “clear guidance” early on so practices can open safely for both dentists, staff and patients. He told BBC Radio Foyle: “We need guidance on not only how we bring patients in but also what PPE (personal protective equipment) we need, as there are various different types.” He said dentists in the Republic of Ireland have been told exactly what kind of PPE they have to use and have already reopened. The article highlights the BDA survey findings that three-quarters of Northern Ireland’s dental practices are at risk of collapse. It says leaders in the sector are demanding rapid government intervention after the survey found that nearly one in every five local practices may go under. With all routine care still suspended amid efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19, 75% of dental surgeries surveyed said they can only remain financially sustainable for up to three months. It says Northern Ireland practices are performing a greater share of private work and emerged as being the most exposed, with 76% of those with low or no NHS commitment (0-25%) stating that they will face imminent difficulties in the next three months.


It’s all very well saying we can open on June 8, but I don’t think many of us will be able to
The East Anglian Daily Times reported on 30 May on the news that the government has announced dental services can restart from 8 June. It reports that one Suffolk dentist (who wished to remain anonymous) said it would be impossible for most to be able to make themselves safe in time, he said: “The first we knew about this was when it appeared on the ticker at the bottom of the BBC live coverage of the prime minister’s press conference on Tuesday.” We then found a newly-arrived email from the government – but it was dated May 19. He added: “It’s all very well saying we can open then (on June 8), but I don’t think many of us will be able to. We will have to get our staff back from furlough, train them in new ways of working, get hold of sufficient supplies of PPE and work out new ways of dealing with patients. The cost of PPE is an issue – we are all individual businesses, even those of us dealing with NHS patients, and we will need to consider that. If they had said we should open at the end of the month or in mid-July that would have given us time, but June 8 will be too soon. What worries me is that while many people will understand the issues we are facing to reopen, some people with a painful tooth will hear this and think they can get treated next week and will end up being disappointed and confused.” The report says that the BDA has welcomed the plans, but warned that expectations need to be managed and quotes our Chair Mick Armstrong saying the return of high street dentistry was welcome news to patients but that they would need to be 'patient', whilst practices get back up and running. 

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BBC News: DIY dentistry: What is safe to do to your own teeth?
 
The BBC features some cases of DIY dentistry during lockdown, including Debroy Parrington, who decided to pull out one of his own teeth using a pair of pliers, and dentist Catherine Tannahill giving advice on how to deal with some common problems. The report says any patient with an emergency dental problem is supposed to be referred to an urgent dental care (UDC) hub for treatment. It says NHS England has said dentists and orthodontists can reopen from 8 June if they put in place appropriate safety measures, but that the BDA has warned that practices will take a while to get fully up and running.

Pirate FM: Hundreds seek NHS 111 dental help in Cornwall
Pirate FM on 31 May reported on the hundreds of callers to NHS 111 in Cornwall who required dental treatment last month, as dentists remain closed from the coronavirus lockdown. It reports that the BDA has said that the Government’s response has reportedly left patients 'waiting in pain and dentists without adequate PPE’. It highlights NHS England data showing that 527 callers in April were recommended to seek help at one of these hubs by the Cornwall 111 service. It is also almost double the 289 in March, and 105% more than the same month last year. It says with all routine dentistry stopped for almost two months, around 400 urgent dental care hubs have been operating across the country in response, and that more than 80,000 NHS 111 users across England were recommended dental help from the service in April alone – more than double that of the month before.

BBC Radio Drive Tees: ‘We got as much notice as the general public did’ 
BBC Radio Drive Tees on 29 May said that dentists have been told can resume work on 8 June, but many are worried they won’t be ready and certain treatments might not be possible. BDA Board member Paul Woodhouse said he’s urging people to only go to the dentist if it is an emergency: “I would hold your horses if you are patient… don’t ask for checkups or non-urgent care, and allow your practice to source their equipment. We are expecting a new set of rules to come out from the Office of the CDO to tell us what kind of dentistry we can do, and what level of PPE is required, and that may shift the goalposts to make things slightly easier for us, it may not. We got as much notice of this announcement as the general public did.”

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Guardian: BDA warns that treatments on offer from June 8 will be limited because of widespread shortages of personal protective equipment
People suffering from toothache may continue to struggle to get appointments with their dentist and more could be forced to resort to extreme DIY measures, despite the government announcement that dental practices can open from next week, the Guardian/ Observer reports. It goes on to say that the chief dental officer for England, Sara Hurley, last week asked the country’s 10,000 practices to start offering routine appointments from 8 June but we has warned that many surgeries will be unable to carry out a full range of treatments because of widespread shortages of personal protective equipment.

Eddie Crouch, vice-chair of the BDA’s executive committee, said dentists would need professionally fitted respirator masks to safely deliver routine procedures such as drilling and filling teeth because they generate millions of potentially infectious microscopic droplets. “Many practices will struggle to get the PPE they need to reopen fully,” he said. “It is unrealistic to think it is going to be business as usual in a few weeks’ time.”
The journalist also interviewed BDA spokesperson, Paul Woodhouse, who said he was getting 30 emergency calls a day, and was struggling to source enough PPE to allow his practice to fully reopen in a week’s time. He said he had donated most of his equipment to the NHS in the early weeks of the crisis. “Dentists are not even at the back of the queue for personal protective equipment – we’re not in the queue,” he said. 

LBC Radio: ‘Don’t do DIY dentistry’
The LBC Eddie Mair show on 29 May reported that the Chief Dental Officer for England is allowing practices to open for face to face treatment in 2 weeks [sic]. It says the Government insists it is working around the clock to ensure there is enough PPE so that individual sites can open when they are ready. It said BDA board member Paul Woodhouse says the BDA has been involved in the planning but in the meantime, his message is: ‘Don’t do DIY dentistry, ring around, all dental practices are open, they are all answering the phone, someone will be able to help you in some way shape or form. It might not be the answer you want, but losing a tooth that is hurting you now, is better than leaving it to progress to something that could become, very, very dangerous.

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LBC Radio: ‘Dentistry has been left behind in every financial measure during this crisis’
BDA Board member Paul Woodhouse also spoke to LBC’s Shelagh Fogarty on 29 May on the reopening date given for practices, he said: “We’ve been told we can open our doors from June 8. We, however, have not been told what kind of dentistry is expected from us, or where the PPE to perform that dentistry is coming from.” The presenter said she’s heard some dentists are ready, some aren’t, Paul commented: ’It runs the whole gamut from people who have FFP3 masks and gowns, etc, down to people who donated all their stocks of PPE to local intensive care units, hospitals and care homes who were desperately short of kit, and now there’s no PPE available to restock, or what is available has gone up so much in price, that is financially unstainable to actually purchase it.” 

The presenter also wanted to know what the BDA wants in terms of guidance or assistance from Government. Paul said: “The BDA is after a), a plan, so we know what is to be expected of our members, if it’s just urgent care or extraction only-service, that requires a different level of PPE to people who are expecting to perform root canals or fillings, etc and once we’ve got that, then we can argue for support to provide PPE to those practitioners which has not been forthcoming. Dentistry, he said, has been left behind in every financial measure during this crisis.” When asked to discuss DIY dentistry, Paul said: ‘It’s heart-breaking, we are running a triage service so dentists are at work and answering the phone to patients, and you are hearing people that you’ve looked after, in my case, 18 years in the same building, talking you through the pain, the symptoms they have and the measures they are taking to look after themselves and there’s nothing I can do to physically help them. I have to face these people at some point in the future and say I’ve done a good job for them. I feel like I am letting my patients’ dentists down. All dentists, out there, despite the widely held perception of us, we all want to help people that’s why we do what we do.” The presenters asked if he felt dentists should have remained opened like GP services have. He said: “That’s a tough one, it’s impossible for us to socially distance. We spend our entire working lives 12 inches away from the main area that this virus hangs around, the upper airway.” She said that it was difficult for doctors too, but Paul said that whilst some specialities can’t socially distance, like ENT surgeons, GPs could conduct a consultation from a 2-metre distance, so they have been better able to help their patients. He added, “But people in pain need to be looked after, and that has not changed from day one, and those people are suffering’. 

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BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester: “Really quite disrespectful to my colleagues” - the news that dentists can reopen on 8 June 
BDA’s vice chair Eddie Crouch spoke to BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester on 29 May on his reaction to the news that dentists can reopen from 8 June. Eddie responded: “For many of the profession it is a relief, it’s been very frustrating to only triage patients over the phone and refer the worst cases onto UDC centres, that’s not what my colleagues like to do, they obviously like to help patients get out of trouble and that hasn’t been possible. So, yes, it’s good news for patients, but I do want to dampen the expectations though, that this is not returning to normal dentistry, we are not going to return to what we were doing in February. This is a very much a staged process and we have 10 weeks of the backlog of patients to deal with and we will have to prioritise those.” He talked about the reasons dentists were closed, due to the potential spread of coronavirus through AGPs, he said “…It means that we need protective equipment, very similar to what was being used in intensive care units. The real frustration for us all is that we were closed down and there wasn’t anything else in place for 4 to 5 weeks afterwards. That showed poor planning. It’s not as though we haven’t planned in the past for pandemics and it’s clearly failed this time. Sadly, that means that many of our patients have been suffering for a long time, and that is not an acceptable situation. So reopening the high street is good, but many of my colleagues will not be able to open on 8 June, as they cannot get hold of PPE. Many gave their PPE away to care homes and doctors in their areas that were struggling, and we are finding it very difficult to replenish that stock.” 

Eddie agreed with the presenter’s observation that dentists have not been given a lot of notice: “It’s completely frustrating, at a national level, the BDA has been having dialogue with the CDO and NHS England, and…. various dates had been discussed, but to find out, as a profession, in a BBC broadcast, with the PM giving a briefing that we were going to open on 8 June, was really quite disrespectful to my colleagues”. Eddie said he knew only about 30 mins before the PM spoke, and “…to many of my colleagues, they have been looking for advice and if we had been given some advice a week or two ago, that this was the date they were working to, then we would have been better prepared…but, we are talking about eight days…many of the practices will need to be modified to ensure that they are safe to deliver care, they will have to have social distancing in the waiting room, they will have to use the surgeries in a different way. Many of the surgeries that were seeing about 30 patients a day per surgery, will only be able to see about eight patients a day. And my colleagues have been inundated this morning with phone calls from patients that from 8 June, expecting they can book normal appointments, and that is just not going to be the case.” The presenter asked if it was likely to be a slow ‘get back to normal’? Eddie responded: “I cannot see…in this calendar year, many patients actually getting routine check-ups. We will have to prioritise what we can deliver over a period of time, unless if we find out that the science is not as bad as we thought and the procedures that we carry out are not too risky, or if we have sufficient supply of PPE to deliver care to our patients. We are frustrated. It’s going to make the support of dental practices really important because the NHS has to realise that we will not be delivering the volume of care we were delivering before, and for private practices, the expense for delivering care will go up.”

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