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In the news week commencing 13 April 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 13 April.

​Friday 17 April

BBC Radio: 'Dentistry airbrushed out of national dialogue'

BBC Radio Sussex's Breakfast and Mid-Morning programmes highlighted the enormous difficulties for patients trying to access emergency dental care, including those with life-threatening infections, fractures and even tumours, which were said to be left untreated and not being investigated. Listeners heard that 'dentistry has been airbrushed out of the national dialogue during this awful healthcare crisis.' Commenting on the situation, BDA spokesperson and local dental committee rep, Toby Hancock, said it was a tragedy that dentists have been banned from doing the most basic procedures for patients and the main reason for this was the lack of appropriate PPE. He said two UDCs will be running from Monday because they had the staff and appropriate PPE.


Which? on how to access dentistry during the pandemic

Consumer organisation, Which? has compiled a guide on how to access healthcare, including dentistry, during this lockdown period. Which? says: 'Dentists are able to provide advice over the phone and prescribe antibiotics and analgesics via telephone for serious cases. It outlines the protocol for dealing with dental emergencies, you can call your dental practice who may refer you to urgent care. Do not visit your practice without calling first. If you have a dental emergency and are self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus, contact NHS 111.'  Which? cites our concerns about getting the urgent care centres off the ground, particularly in England. 

The Oral Health Foundation outlines some tips for keeping your teeth healthy at home while routine dental appointments are paused.

Thursday 16 April

BBC warns that two-thirds of dental practices face collapse businesses  

Several BBC news outlets in the East Midlands covered our survey of 196 dental practices in the region and warned that more than two-thirds were facing collapse without the government’s urgent financial support for small businesses. The BDA survey also prompted a range of interviews with local dentists yesterday and this morning. Speaking on BBC Radio Derby’s Drive (15 April), Andrew Dale from Derby’s local dental committee explained why dental practices had to shut during the coronavirus outbreak, the process of obtaining help from their own dentist or referral to the urgent dental care centre, whichever is appropriate. Andrew also spoke about the 120 dentists who have been redeployed to work in either an urgent dental care centre or the Nightingale hospital in Birmingham and he provided an insight into why dental practices were at financial risk.

Meanwhile, BBC 1 East Midlands Today interviewed Leicester-based dentist, Philip Martin, about the BDA’s findings and the future for dentistry. 

The BDA’s survey and call for urgent financial support also made headline news throughout this morning’s Breakfast programme on BBC Radio Derby.

Listen to news

Fears of spike in `DIY dentistry'' as parents ask how to remove their kids teeth 
The Independent and Metro pick up the Mirror’s claims yesterday that it will be inevitable that people desperately seeking dental treatment will resort to DIY dentistry and pull out their own teeth if the coronavirus lockdown rumbles on too long. They point out that dental practices had to close as the Government restricts movement to combat the spread of Covid-19. The articles cite warnings from the BDA that the longer they stay shut, the worse it could be for the public's health. Currently all routine dental work has been moth-balled with a letter sent to practitioners on March 20 asking them to ‘radically reduce' check-ups. Five days later they were told to stop completely ‘until otherwise advised'. In their place the NHS has set about creating urgent dental care (UDCs) hubs, but only a small number are open, leading to criticisms that the centres are too far away and offer limited treatment for most people

The Independent warns dental practices are “at risk of imminent collapse” 
The Independent also covered ‘an expected spike in DIY dentistry’ as well as our warning that many practices are “at risk of imminent collapse” without urgent support from the government. It referred to our survey of members, which revealed that 72 per cent of practices could only remain financially stable for three months or less.

Wednesday 15 April

BBC Asian Network reveals dentists had to buy own PPE in urgent care centres

BBC Asian Network's Big Debate included a wide-ranging discussion on what people can do if they have dental problems at the moment with our vice chair Eddie Crouch and Surrey-based dentist Kunal Patel. Eddie spoke about the difficulties in setting up the urgent care hubs and the lack of appropriate PPE, and the frustration dentists feel when ministers say that the correct protective equipment has been delivered to the new urgent care hubs when it hasn't. Eddie pointed out that dentists could have continued to treat patients if they had this, but the problem now lay with the distribution of PPE to the new urgent dental care centres. BDA chair Mick Armstrong met up with the health minister, Jo Churchill, remotely, who was well aware of dentists' concerns. Kunal said he had a colleague who was allocated to one of the new hubs and had to source and buy his own PPE. 


Listen from around 40 minutes.


Daily Mail columnist expresses sympathy for dentists 'left high and dry financially' 

Sarah Vine said she was concerned that "practices have not only been forced to close to all but the most dire emergencies, they have also been left high and dry financially." She goes on to say that the BDA warned this week that a fifth of practices may not survive the lockdown. The lack of affordable NHS dentistry is a scandal, she says, as it is - it would be madness to let the rot set in even further. She also says that she doesn't understand why dentists are not included in the list of essential services. She says oral health is vitally important to overall health, and fixing a broken tooth is just as important as fixing a broken bone. 


Scroll down to near the end


ITV news highlights our concerns for dental practices' survival during the lockdown

ITV1, Lunch time news for the West Country (14 April) headlined with our concerns that around two-thirds of practices would struggle to survive beyond three months, with private practices faring the worst.


Link not available


The Mirror on parents asking dentists how to take out children's teeth at home 

Luke Thorley, owner of Royal Wharf Dental in London, told the Mirror that he has heard a range of horror stories, according to the Mirror, including a dad asking a dentist to guide him through removing his six-year-old son's tooth with a pair of pliers. The Mirror also cites the BDA as slamming the Government for 'dragging its feet' in opening urgent dental care hubs (UDCs) to provide emergency procedures. Today we told Mirror Online it is inevitable people will resort to 'DIY dentistry' unless the authorities act swiftly. Luke Thorley maintains that dental practitioners are desperate to reopen their practices and help patients.


BBC 1 Yorks on lack of correct PPE holding up new urgent dental care hubs

Look North interviewed our chair, Mick Armstrong, last night about the state of dentistry in the current environment and why it was necessary for patients with dental emergencies to go to dedicated urgent dental care centres. Speaking from his practice in Castleford, West Yorkshire, Mick expressed concern over the delay in opening the urgent dental care hubs which he said was down to the lack of appropriate PPE. The news programme also featured an interview with a 14-year old boy who had severe toothache; his mother wasn't able to locate an urgent care centre and took her child to a private practice that was still treating patients. 


In a statement, NHS England said it was due to open up 160 such centres and at least 50 were up and running.


Listen at approx 17.15


We issue warning: practices saddling themselves with debt they may never be able to repay

Several news outlets in Yorkshire also highlighted our concerns that around two-thirds of dental practices in the county could only survive for three months at most without government support, and those with a greater reliance on private work would go under and whatever service remains will be unable to meet patient demand. These included commentary from Mick, who said: "Practices are now weeks from a cliff edge, saddling themselves with debt they may never be able to repay. It was right to suspend all non-urgent care, but without meaningful support the region's dental services face decimation, and no practice can be excluded. Dentistry cannot weather this storm when nearly every surgery relies on private care to stay afloat. If officials let these vital services go to wall the impact will be felt by patients in every community in the region."


Derbyshire Times




Dental practices across Wales 'are at risk of imminent collapse due to the lack of financial support'

Other news outlets continue to cover the findings from the BDA's survey of 2,800 dental practices and the detrimental impact the coronavirus lockdown is having on them as well as the lack of financial support. 

More than half (57%) of Welsh practices report they can only remain financially sustainable for three months or less. Nearly one in 10 (9%) estimate they can only survive the month; Less than a third (32%) estimate they will be placed to restore pre-pandemic levels of patient access; 22% of practices responding in Wales have already attempted to secure a government-backed interruption loan but none were able to secure credit; 36% of those who failed have already had to seek commercial loans to stay afloat, at reported rates of interest of more than 20%; Practices performing a greater share of private work in Wales appear most exposed, with 62% of those with low or no NHS commitment (0-25% NHS) stating they will face imminent difficulties in the next three months, falling to 53% among those with the highest NHS commitments (75% or more of NHS activity).

Tuesday 14 April

The Sunday Times warns dental services will be decimated

Covered in depth on Sunday our warnings that the sharp loss of income experienced by dental practices across the UK since the government banned all routine dental care during the coronavirus crisis is crippling practices, with many poised to close permanently. Practices are weeks from a cliff edge. Without meaningful support, the nation’s dental services face decimation.


LBC’s Nick Ferrari on dentists’ concerns during lockdown

The findings from our survey of members was also aired on LBC Radio yesterday. In an interview, our vice chair, Eddie Crouch, told presenter Nick Ferrari that dental practices were struggling to get the financial support they need to survive the coronavirus lockdown, especially those that rely heavily on private income. He commented on how NHS income was eventually secured in all four countries in the UK and provided an insight into the costs of running any dental practice. He also pointed out that the £50,000 limit imposed on the self-employed meant that most dentists would be excluded from accessing financial support from the government’s bailout.


Listen at 8.35am after downloading the LBC App for extra features.


Daily Mail on life without expert dental services

The Daily Mail also covered our survey findings, asking its readers to consider how life would be if the skilled dentists that so many of us rely on simply weren't there anymore. It pointed out that in the past two years, nearly 22 million adults and seven million children had sought the help of dental experts either privately or on the NHS, for everything from routine check-ups to emergency care for gum infections.


Belfast Telegraph – only 75% of surgeries financially sustainable for up to three months

More words on our survey which found that nearly one in every five local practices may go under within the next month. With all routine care now suspended amid efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19, 75% of dental surgeries in Northern Ireland surveyed said they can only remain financially sustainable for up to three months.


Scotland – 8 in 10 dental practices which applied for government loans turned down

Two-thirds of Scottish dental practices (68%) said they can survive a maximum of three months amid the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, several news outlets in Scotland report. A quarter of practices have applied for support loans from the Government, but 86% said they were turned down. Of the rejected applicants, 30% have reported seeking commercial loans instead, with reported interest rates of over 20%.


Wales – self-employed need help extended to those earning more than £50,000 p/y

More than half of dental practices in Wales face collapse if coronavirus restrictions continue for three months, it has been warned. NHS practices have been offered some support, but warmed that if those practices with a greater reliance on private work go under, then whatever service remains will be unable to meet patient demand.


The Sun - England – Are dentists still open today?
The Sun warned its readers that if they were experiencing toothache during the coronavirus outbreak that they would have to wait a while until they would be able to see a dentist.