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In the news week commencing 30 March 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 30 March.

Friday 3 April

Which? Looks at what the lockdown means for trading and consumer rights
Consumer watchdog, Which? reiterates government advice and references our advice that dentists should close their doors for all but emergency cases.

Thursday 2 April

400 dentists offer to help emergency clinics in Northern Ireland

The Belfast Live and Belfast Telegraph covered dentists' response to the HSCB call for 100 dentist volunteers.  More than 400 high street dentists in Northern Ireland volunteered to run emergency dental clinics during lockdown, over four times the number requested. Richard Graham, chair of the our NI General Dental Practice Committee, said: "This is a very stressful time for everyone, dental teams included, so we are very proud of colleagues who are in the forefront of finding a solution for people in dental pain. Routine check-ups are off the menu for now, and we want to ensure every patient has access to advice, pain relief and emergency care when they need it."

Oral health inequalities set to widen during the pandemic

Figures recently released by Public Health England on the state of 5-year-olds' oral health in England were given a significant airing in the regional press, including in Leeds, Wigan, Southend and Yorkshire. As well as focusing on local levels of tooth decay and oral health inequalities, they all cited our warning that "grotesque" health inequalities among children in different areas of the country are set to widen as they lose out on free check-ups and school meals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday 1 April

ITV news highlights gaps in care for oral health emergencies

Lunchtime News on ITV1 and in around 20 ITV1 regional outlets in England highlighted dentists’ and patients’ frustrations at the slow pace of getting clinical centres off the ground to treat patients with emergency care needs. Our Head of Indemnity, Len z pointed out that although NHS England had known for some time that routine dentistry wouldn’t be available for patients because of the high risk environment for patients and staff and the lack of appropriate personal protective equipment, the provision of these new centres was patchy and none (as of yesterday) existed in London. Len advised viewers if they had problems to phone their dental practice, where they would be triaged and advised accordingly. However, he acknowledged that there was a limit to what dentists could treat remotely and said he hoped that the waiting period for patients who require urgent care would be short lived until the emergency centres were established. He pointed out that the BDA was supportive of these centres and were doing their best to assist in their development.
Not available online.

BBC Radio Wales – how, where and what dental care can be accessed

This morning's Breakfast included a comprehensive interview with Tom Bysouth, our chair of the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee. Tom told listeners why routine dentistry has been placed on pause, and how the public would be able to access advice or urgent care if required for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic. He emphasised that dental practices are available to provide advice over the phone and will help their patients as best they can to manage their symptoms, or where necessary refer them to the emergency treatment clinics which, he explained, are at varying states of readiness. He pointed out that the dental teams in these clinics would be wearing enhanced personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of staff and patients alike. Tom anticipates that there will be extra pressure on dental practices once the pandemic is over dealing with the backlog of 'saved' up problems on an already over-stretched service.

Listen in from approx. 44 mins


BBC Radio Devon – access urgent care hard for socially disadvantaged

Ian Mills, Dean of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) and our spokesperson in Devon, was a guest yesterday afternoon on Janet Kipling programme.  Ian said that the local dental committee and NHS commissioners were working hard to get the 15 urgent care centres up and running for the south west.  He drew attention to oral health inequalities and how the most disadvantaged are also likely to struggle to get transport to centres if they are located great distances from where they live in Devon and Cornwall.


Not yet available online.


ITV West Country - from Exeter to Birmingham for emergency treatment

A 32-week pregnant woman was forced to drive from Exeter to Birmingham for an emergency dental appointment after suffering from severe toothache. Denise Hill made the 320 mile round trip after failing to get an appointment with her dentist, or any other in the South West after she discovered that her local A&E was unable to treat her.

Ian Mills was interviewed for this article said he was deeply disappointed to hear about this woman's experience and said she fell into the category of patients that haven't yet being catered for during the coronavirus crisis. We highlighted concerns over PPE, and lamented the weeks that "have been lost that should have been spent setting up a properly equipped emergency dental service". The ITV articles also reproduced our advice for patients during the lockdown period.

Tuesday 31 March

BBC Radio Ulster – limitations on dental care explained
Richard Graham, chair of the BDA Northern Ireland’s Dental Practice Committee, provided a similar wide-ranging ‘state of play’ interview on several BBC outlets last night, including the Stephen McCauley Show on BBC’s Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle. Richard spoke about first-aid dentistry that can be accessed at the moment to keep patients comfortable and out of acute pain. He outlined the principles behind triaging patients, and referred to the three As that would be provided, advice, analgesia, or antibiotics, where required. Richard pointed out that treatments would be limited, and provided examples of what cases the emerging emergency care clinics are being set up to treat, such as child knocking a tooth out, somebody with extreme swelling, bruising and maxillofacial trauma. He anticipates that around five centres will be opened in NI, the first in Belfast, with dentists drawn from 3-400 practices from across Northern Ireland. Richard also referred to the financial difficulties for dentists with no income now at all from either NHS or private care and they were awaiting to hear what mitigating package would be provided for practitioners.

Listen from around 1.45

Monday 30 March

Mick Armstrong expresses anger that dentists are losing out in failed bailout 

The Daily Star warned its readers that thousands of dental practices could close in the coming months because dentists say an NHS financial safety net is unable to protect them during the lockdown. Mick Armstrong, the BDA’s chair said: ‘Thousands of practices could go to the wall. A largely self-employed workforce has been offered few crumbs of comfort from Government.’ England has about 27,500 dentists. Four-fifths do NHS work, but many subsidise it with private cases. Most dentists work as self-employed ‘associates’ in surgeries. They will be eligible for the self-employment bailout only if they earn less than £50,000, but the average income is £60,000.

Mumsnet – advice for severe toothache and no prospect of treatment

Although it concludes that our guidance is very wise on where dental practices stand during this lockdown phase, it invites suggestions from readers as to what people with persistent toothache can do when they are unable to eat or drink anything, except water.