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In the news week commencing 11 May 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 11 May.

Thursday 14 May


This is Money: Dentists beg Government to extend support schemes 
This Is Money highlights the financial plight of dentists during the COVID-19 pandemic and our findings which revealed that seven in 10 dentists will go bust by August unless the Treasury acts now. It notes our campaign to raise the £50,000 cap on support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, to ensure easier access to the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, and to extend business rates relief to all practices. The article highlights that dentists concerns have been backed by more than 100 MPs, including John McDonnell, former shadow chancellor and Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, and Harriet Harman, a former cabinet minister and current Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham. It states that MPs and dental professionals have warned that not only does the detrimental financial situation affect business owners and those in the dentistry industry but also the future of public health. The article states that a petition has been set up online in a bid to get the issue debated in parliament. It also cites commentary from Martin Woodrow, chief executive, as saying: 'Private practice remains a core concern for the BDA. We are undeterred and will continue to press the Government for an equitable resolution. 'We are using powerful evidence, which comes directly from our members, to demonstrate the urgent and incontrovertible needs of the dental industry to the Government.'   

Insurance Age: Dentists seek legal action in fresh business interruption dispute
The trade journal Insurance Age reports that we have appointed the law firm Brown Rudnick to look at members’ insurance policies after the vast majority of business interruption claims were rejected by insurers. The article notes that the BDA is working with grassroots members, who have been organising on social media, to gather evidence on the full range of policies in the sector. Chair, Mick Armstrong, is quoted as saying many dentists who had taken out policies to deal with the unexpected have been left with no support during this crisis. Insurance Age reports that dentists are just one of many groups who are in dispute with insurers during this crisis. An open letter to the insurance industry, from the COVID-19 claim group, calling on them to support businesses and provide Business Interruption support was signed by over 600 people.

Insurance Age, 13th May, not available online

BBC: ‘BDA is doing lots of lobbying on our behalf’
In an interview on Breakfast, BBC Radio Wiltshire this morning, Rory McNulty spoke about the changes to dentistry since the pandemic and speculated on how this might change in the future. The dentist referenced the British Dental Association as ‘doing lots of lobbying on our behalf’ to get dentistry on the government’s radar, adding that patients need us. Rory emphasised the importance of sticking to a good oral hygiene routine and to cut down on sugar intake. 

Listen at approx 07.27


Wednesday 13 May

The Times: Dentists ready for battle over insurers’ failure to pay out

The Times business section reports that we are taking legal advice to review policies bought by dentists, amid fear that insurers are seeking to avoid paying claims related to the covid-19 crisis. It noted that dentistry is one of the sectors, along with holiday lets, hotels and restaurants that is concerned that insurers are seeking to avoid paying compensation to. The article highlights that while the majority of policies do not specifically cover covid-19, the drafting of the policies mean that dentists could still make claims. Chair, Mick Armstrong, is quoted as saying that insurers have left dentists in the lurch at a time when many dentists income have dropped to zero and that the BDA is not prepared to wait for the Financial Conduct Authority to take action against insurers.

 

The Sun: Under no circumstances attempt to remove own teeth

The Sun (Scotland) includes commentary from our scientific adviser, Damien Walmsley, and also from spokesperson, Len D’Cruz, on a range of DIY measures to relieve dental ailments, such as toothache, bleeding gums, painful wisdom teeth, along with crowns and fillings falling out. Commenting on the scenario where “my tooth pain is so severe I’m thinking of pulling it out”, Damien advises: “Under no circumstances attempt to remove one of your own teeth. There are many vital structures close to your mouth, including the nose and the eyes. The potential for causing more damage is huge. Speak to your dentist, who could refer you to urgent dental centre.


Not available online

 

BBC Radio 5: Access to dentistry during pandemic

BBC Radio 5, The Coronavirus news podcast (which also aired on several BBC local radio stations yesterday), featured a segment on access to dentistry during the pandemic. The presenter highlighted that there is no timeline for a check-up or to come back, and the only way to get a dentists appointment is if you are in a really bad way. He flagged that the BDA says you need a major facial swelling or agony that you can’t control in order to be referred to collection of emergency dentists. The presenter says the reason behind it is that the idea that dentists would be very vulnerable, but that dentists are saying to him they are well used to ‘…shoving faces in people’s mouth…’ and taking precautions. 


Listen at 16:40



Tuesday 12 May

Daily Star: BDA to meet NHS England to discuss emerging from lockdown
The Daily Star reports that the British Dental Association has advised that since the Prime Minister’s message on Sunday night there is no change in the status of dental activity at this time. The urgent dental care centres remain for emergencies, but there is no return to routine dental appointments at the moment. The article reports that Mick Armstrong, our chair, is meeting with the Dentistry Minister Jo Churchill and the Chief Dental Officer (England) Sara Hurley, on Wednesday 12 May to discuss the general approach for NHS and private dentistry. It was also reported that we are meeting NHS England on Thursday 14 May to discuss how dentistry emerges from the lockdown.

Sun Online: When will dentists re-open?
The Sun Online reported dental treatment will be taking place at Urgent Dental Care centres during the crisis and that we had stated that the COVID-19 crisis represents a major risks to the financial viability of UK dental practices. It stated that Martin Woodrow, Chief Executive, had been in touch with NHS England to urge the importance of supporting all dental practices during this period. It also reported that many ordinary dentists were concerned about their high risk of covid exposure, due to working with a patient’s mouth.
 
Scotland Herald: Tribute to dentist Graham McKirdy
The Scotland Herald has reported the death of Graham McKirdy, a Fellow of the BDA. It reports he died peacefully at home on 3 May surround by family. His funeral will take place at Daldowie Crematorium on Tuesday 19 May at 3pm. Graham worked as a GDP for over 30 years and is a former chair of both the BDA's Scottish Council and UK Council, as well as serving on the General Dental Practice Committee and the Scottish Dental Practice Committee.
 
ITV Online: Coronavirus Q&A from holidays, hairdressers and broken teeth
ITV online featured a list of Q&As on 11 May, including someone with a broken tooth asking when dentists will be allowed to reopen. The piece says we have been in daily contact with the NHS and ministers, but at the moment, there is no timeframe for when dentists will start to reopen their practices. It says dentists are providing a telephone service and urgent patients being referred to UDC centres, but there are only around 200 of these with limited capacity.


Monday 11 May

BBC South East: Devastating impact overnight on private dental practices 

BBC South East covered the story of the Dental Health Spa practice in Brighton, who say that they risk going bankrupt in a matter of weeks without access to Government support, as private practice falls outside of the scope of the grant scheme and dental practices are not exempt from business rates. Owner Christina Chatfield said: “[We’ve faced] a total loss of revenue overnight, we have fixed costs, but no revenue coming into pay them.” The report points out that as they are located in central Brighton they pay higher retail rates, but unlike neighbouring shops, they are still awaiting confirmation of rates relief. Brighton MP, Caroline Lucas said: “I am lobbying government and asking the Council if they can use some discretion to provide some support for this practice because it’s providing an essential service on the high street, it doesn’t make any sense that other businesses are getting support but this practice isn’t.” Brighton and Hove City Council said that it has paid out nearly £50million to the city’s small businesses and is awaiting information from Government on a discretion fund for those who so far are ineligible.  


Commenting on the financial difficulties for dental practices, BDA chair of the GDPC, Dave Cottam told BBC South East: “As many as 65% of dentists are really going to struggle to survive after this three-month period, so it’s not just a lone case that we are hearing in Brighton - for which I’ve got an awful lot of sympathy - it’s going on up and down the country.” 


View clips on our Twitter feed  

@ TheBDA 

@DaveCottamGDPC 

  

Sunday Post: Sepsis warning for children on lengthy dental waiting lists 

The Sunday Post reported that children in Scotland, who are having to wait longer for urgent dental treatment were at increased risk of infection. David McColl warned that the covid-19 crisis had increased the backlog of children waiting for treatment under general anesthetic. He feared that children waiting for months will require repeated antibiotic prescriptions and risk contracting sepsis. The article notes that BDA Scotland has long expressed concerns over the waiting times for treatment. In July 2019, we wrote to the Scottish government asking it to put more resources towards tackling the issue. The article notes that the covid crisis has led to a suspension of routine care and the cancelling of many general anaesthetic lists, thereby making the waiting times for children even longer. 


Sunday Post (Dundee), not available online 

 

Ulster Sunday Mirror: Dentist shortage sparks a rise in DIY treatments 

The Ulster Sunday Mirror reported on the plight of Britons resorting to DIY dentistry due to a shortage of dental provision. It said only around 300 urgent care dental centres were operating during lockdown, a fraction of the 9,000 normally open across the UK. Eddie Crouch, vice chair, is quoted: “I’ve been bombarded with stories from people who tried to take their own teeth out. One lady had filed her tooth down with a nail file. Another lady’s tooth had split and part was tethered to the gum.” He said people are so desperate they are taking matters into their own hands, and are on two or three rounds of antibiotics because they can’t see a dentist. The article says that the BDA wants the £50,000 cut-off for access to financial aid for self-employed removed. The average dentist salary is £69,000, but many are graduates who have loans to repay. 


Not available online 


Sunday Post: People travel 100 miles + to get urgent dental care 

The Sunday Post reported on the case of Nick Ray and his wife Karen from Mull who had to go on a 110 mile round trip, via a ferry, so that Nick could have a tooth removed. They missed the final ferry back and had to camp overnight before returning home. It was noted that the coronavirus pandemic had led to the closure of most practices and ended routine dental visits. David McColl, speaking on our behalf, commented that due to the present crisis dentists are triaging patients in the first instance but those that need treatment are being seen in one of the 56 urgent dental care centres in Scotland. 


Sunday Post (Dundee), not available online 


Daily Telegraph: Dental patients suffer due to shortage of PPE 

An article in the Daily Telegraph on 8 May on the shortage of PPE in dentistry, quoted the BDA as saying there was a ‘postcode lottery’ of provision for dental patients, with some having teeth removed that would have normally been restored. It says that as many as 80 per cent of referred patients are being turned away due to a lack of PPE. Health Minister Jo Churchill is quoted as saying the Government was “…aware that there have been delays” getting PPE to dentists and the Department of Health was working to resolve the issue. The story highlights the BDA’s survey which says more than half of dentists were experiencing shortages of essential masks and gowns. 

 

Sunday Mirror: Dental shortage leads to rise in DIY treatment 

The Sunday Mirror reported on the rise in dental patients attempting their own treatment in response to the covid crisis closing most UK practices. Eddie Crouch, vice-chair, was quoted as saying he had been bombarded with stories of patients who have been doing their own DIY dentistry. The article noted the BDA wants the £50,000 limit for the self-employed to be removed, as this was disproportionately impacting dentists and those dentists will be needed once the crisis is over. 


Sunday Mirror (Ulster), not available online 

 

Times: Dentistry open for emergency cases only  

The Times incudes a summary of the government's three-month plan and five levels of coronavirus alert, as outlined by the prime minster yesterday, while a YouGov poll for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, shows the country split on Mr Johnson’s relaxation of the rules.  Some 44 per cent of people in Britain support the changes, while 43 per cent oppose, with support highest in London and the South East.  Elsewhere, the consumer watchdog, Which?, references dentistry in an article that speculates on what the government’s exit plan means for various activities. This includes a comment from us, which was issued at the start of lockdown: “this has advised dentists that they should close their doors for all but emergency cases.”