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In the news week commencing 8 June 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 8 June.

Thursday 11 June

Somerset Live: BDA calls on Matt Hancock to provide more support for dentists

Somerset Live reports that Green Park dental practice in Bath has been able to re-open at short notice, but the article notes that not all practices have been as fortunate. It is estimated that only 36% of dental practices were able to open on 8 June, due to the shortage of PPE and the quickness of the government announcement that dental practices could re-open. Due to the cross infection issues the practice estimates it will only be able to see five to eight patients a day rather than the 20 to 30 before the pandemic. The article reports that the British Dental Association has written an open letter to Matt Hancock, stating that there needs to be more support from the government, to allow dentists to get back to work and treat the large backlog of patients that have built up during the corona crisis.

Insurance Times: FCA test case to High Court ‘…not the intention to pay a claim is rather odd considering how clear and unambiguous some of these wordings are’
The Insurance Times comments on a test case that the Financial Conduct Authority has submitted to the High Court that will define the future of business interruption payouts following the Covid-19 outbreak. The regulator said in its submission that insurers should be liable for paying out for business interruption claims related to the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent government lockdown restrictions placed on UK businesses as it takes the stance of ”adopting the policyholders’ position for the purposes of testing these points” in order to bring clarity to the market.  The article also refers to FCA making reference to the “businesses and groups of businesses” that are challenging the rejection of their claims, such as the proposed group action from the British Dental Association and the £52m payout sought by the Hiscox Action Group on behalf of its 397 group members. The article includes words of warning from compliance consultant Branko Bjelobaba for insurers expecting a favourable outcome. “It will be interesting to see what the judges think next month – to say it was not the intention to pay a claim is rather odd considering how clear and unambiguous some of these wordings are,” he said.

Wednesday 10 June

Daily Telegraph: Majority of dentists braced for collapse as high cost of PPE bites

The Daily Telegraph this morning reported on the rising cost of PPE and the impact this has on the dentistry. The BDA’s chair Mick Armstrong is quoted as saying: “Dentists may have reopened their doors but the threat of financial collapse still looms large.” It says the BDA this week wrote to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, asking for more support and ensuring dentists get access to state supplies of PPE.  The article notes that dentists have reopened this week but added bills and reduced patient numbers mean only 8% of dentists say they will survive if social distancing rules continue. It notes most dental practices do not qualify for the business rates exemption offered to other high street firms. The reports state that dentists were also angry that they first learnt of plans to reopen surgeries this week from television news broadcasts rather than from the Government or NHS. 

Not available online


Herald: Scotland expected to announce plans next week when face-to-face dentistry will reopen

The Herald reports that a return to face to face dentistry could be announced as early as next week. The Scottish Chief Dental Officer, Tom Ferris, in a letter published yesterday, indicated that there would be a phased return to dentistry over the coming weeks. The decision will be made on the 18th June at the 3-weekly review of lockdown regulations. The article notes that dental practices in England began to re-open on the 8th June and that the BDA has ‘advised its members to prioritise vulnerable patients and urgent needs patients’. The article also pointed out that the BDA has requested that dentists be granted key worker status and be given access to government supplies of PPE. One survey suggests only a third of dental practices in England re-opened on the 8th June.

BBC News Northern Ireland: We’re at the point of collapse, dentists warn

BBC News Northern Ireland reported on the BDA’s letter to the Minister for the economy, highlighting that dentists who focus on private work in Northern Ireland say they are at the point of collapse because of a lack of financial support from the executive. It reports that the BDA has written to the economy minister, seeking an urgent meeting. The BDA says the government’s financial scheme was based on NHS earnings alone and has excluded private practices although they are subject to the same practising restrictions. The BDA warns about the impact on NHS provision if private practices do not survive, as many offer some NHS dentistry.  


OK!: EastEnders' actress “visited my lovely dentist! I was a tad anxious but the clinic couldn’t be more safe.”

Ok! magazine features a story on EastEnders star Louisa Lytton visiting a dentist during lockdown and shared how the whole experience went including temperature check and safety measures, by posting on her Instagram account. The article notes that dentists reopened this week, and was welcomed by many patients, although some may be feeling anxious about going during the pandemic. It states that following government guidelines dental surgeries have implemented extra safeguards to protect staff and customers. She posted a picture of the reception area with a Perspex screen up and said: “Today I visited my lovely dentist! I was a tad anxious but the clinic couldn’t be more safe.” She also posted a picture of herself smiling next to her dentist, who was wearing a protective mask and full plastic gown: “just in case people are wary”, alongside a smiling tooth emoji. The article notes that the BDA’s survey said that only 36% of practices will be back at work from 8th June, but that 60% hope to be open by the end of the month.  It also highlights that "barely 15 per cent" are set up to be able to offer a full range of services, and that routine check-ups will be off the cards.

Tuesday 9 June

The Telegraph: Exclusive - dental waiting list is growing by 40,000 a day and could exceed one million by autumn

The Telegraph provides a comprehensive overview of the impact of lockdown on dentistry, the huge backlog of patients in need of treatment that has built up in the interim, as well as the new infection control measures that severely limit the capacity of dental practices to see patients since they re-opened in England yesterday. This article includes input from BDA’s vice chair, Eddie Crouch and highlights that the BDA wrote to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, demanding that dentists be granted key worker status, relief from business rates and permanent access to the Government supply chain of PPE.


It cites the BDA as estimating that the official backlog is likely to exceed one million by autumn, with strict coronavirus infection control rules reducing the flow of patients to a trickle.  The BDA blamed poor communication by the Government for the flood of inquiries from non-serious patients which it says is currently inundating practices.  It also accused the Department of Health and Social Care of hindering the reopening of normal dental services – allowed from yesterday – by only granting dentists access to the official supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) from last Wednesday. It notes too that the price of PPE on the open market has increased 60-fold.


The profession estimates that practices will be able to get through just 10 per cent of their normal daily list of patients.   Although the science is hazy, experts believe at least 30 minutes should be left for any virus particles in the air to settle on surfaces before they are disinfected. Meanwhile, the difficulty of adhering to social distancing rules in the cramped premises occupied by many high street practices will also reduce patient flow. Dentists have been told to conduct pre-appointment consultations via telephone or video where possible in order to reduce the time patients spend in the surgery to a minimum. Monday's reopening of dental practices caught the profession off guard when it was announced on May 28.


The Times: Dentists warn of a drastically reduced service

The Times today references the BDA’s letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, urging him to provide for more support to keep dentists afloat or access to dental care across England will be drastically reduced. The BDA says that there is no possibility of the service carrying out anything more than a fraction of the 39.72 million courses of treatment that were provided by NHS dentists in England in 2018-19 and that social distancing rules mean most practices can only see a fraction of the patients they would pre-Covid-19. It features comments from BDA chair Mick Armstrong: “For years, communities from Cornwall to Cumbria struggled to get appointments but were ignored. Without action from Government, access problems on an unprecedented scale are going to be visited on millions of patients in every part of England.” It also reports on the situation in Wales, and says access won’t be granted until January, leaving millions without care. It says some Welsh dentists are setting up practices across the border, to be able to see patients urgently.

Daily Mail: The grim new face of a visit to the dentist

The Daily Mail today reports on the reopening of dental practices in England from yesterday. It highlights the BDA’s survey findings that only half are planning to reopen this week and that 80 per cent say they expect to reopen 'to some level' by the end of June. It highlights the lack of PPE, and how little time dentists were given to comply with the new guidance and protocols. It highlights the BDA’s concern that the cost of PPE has spiralled, with prices for boxes of simple masks rocketing from £5 to £50. It reports that six in ten BDA members say they fear they won't be able to stay financially afloat. Only 8 per cent say they felt confident they can survive the spiralling treatment costs and plummeting appointment numbers. The article quotes BDA chair Mick Armstrong, as saying: ’Anyone expecting dentistry to magically return this week will find only a skeleton service.'

BBC Radio Surrey: 'We need some help in this unprecedented situation...'

Dentist Yasmin George appeared on BBC Radio Surrey yesterday discussing dental practices reopening, while the programme flagged the BDA's survey which said only a third were ready to carry out routine appointments, and many expect to limit the services they offer. The presenter asked if she was reopening yesterday, to which Yasmin said:  "Unfortunately not, we open later this week, but we've been in staff training for the last few days and that will continue this week, implementing the new protocols, learning the new PPE. But we have the builders coming in today making some alterations, such that we can practise safely and encompass the social distancing rules, things like screens in reception and staff areas redesigned...PPE changing of clothes when we arrive, we have to change our clothes at lunchtime so we don't eat in our clinical wear...I could go on - it’s quite a different world of dentistry now."


Listen at 01:49.

Which? Magazine: Dentists reopen in England today, but you may struggle to get an appointment

Which? Magazine covered the reopening of dental practices yesterday, highlighting the BDA’s survey that revealed that just over a third of practices would be working, only 15% will offer a full range of treatment and that 60% of practices estimate they will see less than a quarter of the patients they had pre-COVID.  Which? reports this is concerning given their research earlier on this year which revealed that NHS dentistry in England and Wales was already struggling with issues including lack of access, annual price hikes and long waiting lists. The magazine said it asked people about their experiences of needing dental care during lockdown, and noted that many felt let down by the system, and some had been left to deal with chipped or broken teeth and bad dental pain at home.

BBC News at One: Guidance issued far too late for many dentists to get ready in time

BBC News at One and evening bulletins featured a story yesterday on dentists reopening, noting the BDA's survey figures that only a third would be treating anyone and that routine care is still a long way off. BDA Vice Chair Eddie Crouch was interviewed and said: "Many of my colleagues have struggled to implement the operating procedures that were only issued last Thursday, and the PPE which has been an issue throughout this pandemic was only released to the dental market on Wednesday, far too late for many of the practices to get their orders and delivered to their practices for today." The slot also featured two dentists, Sanjay Shah, who said: "I can only see a few patients and there's more of a backlog.. so realistically we may be talking a couple of months at least." Dentist Pola Reza talked about the increased PPE needed and said: "Although it's uncomfortable it's there for the safety of us and our patients, and that's paramount..." He said he used to see around 30 patients a day, but the maximum now would be five and that the backlog is building. The presenter commented that access wasn't good before and now it looks even tougher and will be for some time.


The BBC reports also noted that in Scotland only private practices can open, while in Northern Ireland the advice is for urgent patients to be treated from today, and people in Wales, should be able to access routine services from 1 July. It featured dentist Tony Clough whose practice is a UDC in Essex who said they had patients travelling from as far as Edinburgh and Hull to get treatment, but who hopes that with more practices opening, they will be able to access their own dentist. He said: ‘It’s not like a light switch that you can flick on and off’. The reporter said that it took a long time to get UDCs up and running and left a lot of people frustrated, and that access wasn’t good before and isn’t getting any easier. BDA vice chair Eddie Crouch was interviewed and said: “Many of my colleagues are going to struggle financially unless some security is there for them over a longer period of time until we get to see routine treatments in a more general way.”


Watch at 23:30.

BBC One London: Prevention must not be a casualty of the pandemic

BBC One London yesterday highlighted that dentists were reopening from 8th June and focused on the dental health of children in more deprived areas. They reported on the case of 11-year-old Ibrahim who has Down’s syndrome and normally has regular appointments. His father said that his learning disabilities and special needs made him more prone to developing tooth decay and oral hygiene problems can stop him eating and drinking; and all this was more difficult and stressful since Covid-19. The programme notes that Newham is one of the worst areas in the UK for children’s oral health. Dentist Sam Shah said: “Parents are really anxious about the oral health of their children especially those from deprived communities. We’ve had lots of parents who’ve contacted us by social media, by phone and even come in person, who’ve been waiting to be seen for months now.” They also interviewed BDA spokesperson, Len D’Cruz: “The public health programmes which have been suspended during lockdown needs to be implemented very quickly, the schools’ brushing programme, the health visiting”.


The programme highlighted the BDA’s concern that tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions for young children in England, and emphasised that prevention work must not be a casualty of the pandemic. It included a statement from the Government that it was committed to improving children’s oral health through prevention.


Watch from 13:12.

BBC Look North: Waiting lists will be a problem for at least the rest of the year

BBC Look North’s evening news featured a segment on the slow return to normal for dentistry and said that only four out of 10 practices have reopened in the region and all are only working at a fraction of their normal capacity. It interviewed BDA Board member Paul Woodhouse in his surgery showing the increased level of PPE he needed to be able to treat patients. Paul said: “I would normally see 30 patients a day, with the new regulations we’ll maybe be seeing five, maybe as many as eight patients a day depending on procedures. I anticipate waiting lists being a problem for at least the rest of the year.”

The programme featured a patient in pain, who said he was looking forward to being treated, so that he can get on with his life.  Paul said:  “Any dentist will tell you, the best reward they’ve ever got is a thank you after someone has come in with pain, but we can’t do that right not…not at the levels, we’d like to and not at the rate we’d like to’.


Watch at 11:50.

BBC: Coronavirus: Dentists' plea to reopen surgeries in Wales

Dental health in Wales faces an "impending disaster" unless surgeries reopen, a dentist has warned in a letter to the first minister. Cardiff dentist Charlie Stephanakis said his plea on behalf of about 500 Welsh colleagues reflected mounting concerns for patients. The Welsh Government said that reinstating services needs to be “gradual". From July patients will be able to be assessed for urgent care at their practices, but those requiring invasive procedures such as high-speed drilling will still be referred to specialist 'urgent dental care' centres. Under the phased guidelines set out by Wales' chief dental officer, Colette Bridgman, routine assessments and care will only be reinstated between January and March 2021. It reports the BDA as saying that there was a "great, growing demand" for swifter action before 2021. A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We share dentists' concerns and recognise routine care cannot be postponed indefinitely. We have published our plan for the reinstatement of services but this needs to be a cautious and gradual approach, taking into consideration the risk of aerosol-generating procedures on Covid-19 transmission. There is a need to balance the oral health needs of patients against the need to protect patients, dental teams and communities in Wales from coronavirus."

BBC South Today: Many practices face an uncertain future

BBC South Today - Oxford evening news warned last night that seven out of 10 of dentists in the region could be forced to close their doors for good, according to the BDA. It said practices have been they told can reopen from today following increased safety measures, but that the shortage of PPE has prevented around two-thirds from doing so. They featured a story of patient Justine, who turned to DIY dentistry when her filling fell out and she tried to do temporary fillings because she was in so much pain. The programme highlighted the BDA’s letter to the Health Secretary, warning that many practices face an uncertain future. BDA spokesperson, Phil Gowers, said:  “We need PPE, we’ve got seven out of 10 practices facing bankruptcy, we need support. We didn’t get any business exemption. You look at bookies, they got an exemption. We fell outside of the furlough scheme, a lot of practices have no income coming in, but still have high costs.”


Watch from 06:50.

ITV1 London: Dentists will need continued financial support going forward

Last night ITV1 London evening news reported on dental practices reopening yesterday, including the BDA’s open letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, urging him to ‘take responsibility’. BDA vice-chair Eddie Crouch was interviewed and said: “We are calling for more support because it’s going to be quite a long time until its ‘business as usual’ for dental practices. They will need some continued financial support going forward, many practices will be seeing only about a quarter of the number of patients they would be seeing pre-COVID. Many practices across London provide private care, if they go to the wall, it’s going to be a huge problem for NHS services.” Private dentist Yasmin George said: “It’s a bit like telling a restaurant they can only serve the starters. Somebody goes to a restaurant for a three-course meal but they can’t have the main course or dessert, they can only have the starter. How could a restaurant survive? We are only able to do limited treatments at the moment. I don’t see how it’s going to work economically, the overheads of running a dental practice are very high, and now they are even higher. The enhanced PPE is expensive.” The programme said the Department of Health says it’s put unprecedented funds into supporting all businesses, including dentists and highlighted the 550 UDC centres available for patients.


Not available online

Five News: Cost of PPE up 60 times

Five News at 5pm at 8 June reported on the reopening of dentists and highlighted the BDA’s survey which reports on the widespread challenges facing the profession, including the cost of PPE up by 60 times, and the majority of dentists saying social distancing means can only see 1/4 of patients in a day as compared to previously. The BDA reports that only one in 10 say will be financially viable. BDA Vice-Chair Eddie Crouch was interviewed and said: “It makes sense for the Government to help the whole of the dental industry so that longer-term they don’t have to invest huge amounts of money in the NHS further on down the line, by simply making sure that the provision that is there at the moment exists long term.” The report notes that government says unprecedented funding for all businesses including dentists. Dentist Vishaal Shah was also interviewed said: “We’ve got about a quarter of the number of patients coming through our doors, can we sustain it? I don’t know. Right one all I want to do is help people for as long as I can. My biggest fear? What if I can’t pay the bills next month?”


Not available online

Monday 8 June

The Times: Coronavirus: PPE cost will ‘cripple’ dental services
The Times today reports that the cost of PPE for dentists is likely to financially cripple practices, with costs amounting to up to £30 per patient, according to the BDA. It says that the cost of PPE for AGPs was about 45 pence before the pandemic but has risen to between £20 and £30, depending on requirements. It reports that the BDA’s survey showed that only 8 per cent of practices will be financially viable based on expected patient numbers and added costs. The BDA has estimated that the price of PPE for such procedures could be 60 times as much as before and blames a combination of intense competition for PPE and pressure on global supply chains for the rise in costs, as well as government guidance that requires enhanced protection for all dental treatments.

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Daily Mail: Reopen wide! Dentists are set to start appointments again this week... but only a THIRD will see patients face-to-face
The Daily Mail reports on dentists reopening this morning, highlighting the fact it will not be business as usual for patients. Using the BDA’s survey figures, it reports that one-third of dentists reopening this week will offer face-to-face appointments, nine in ten dentists say they lack the necessary PPE to offer routine procedures and therefore drills will not be being used. It quotes BDA Chair Mick Armstrong: ‘Those practices reopening now face fewer patients and higher costs and will struggle to meet demand. Dentists returning to work still lack the support offered to our neighbours on the high street, and even clarity on key worker status when it comes to childcare. Commenting on the BDA’s survey, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, said: ‘This will no doubt have been an agonising time for those suffering from dental problems during the lockdown. The reopening of dental practices is a welcome step, but it is vital that this doesn’t risk the health of dentists, patients and staff.”
Daily Telegraph: Dentists describe bleak reality of working on Covid wards
The Daily Telegraph features a piece today on dentists redeployed in hospitals during lockdown and discussed the cases of patients resorting to DIY dentistry to fix their own teeth whilst unable to get treatment. It features the story of Ruby Glaskie, 24, a senior house officer in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Luton and Dunstable hospital, whose day job involves fixing broken jaws or stitching cuts and lacerations to faces after accidents. “We’re busy dealing with acute problems such as tooth infections and abscesses that have been left to fester during lockdown and didn’t get proper attention.” Ruby was one of a group of eight SHOs at the hospital’s A&E who were taken off normal duties and redeployed on to Covid wards during the pandemic. She reports: “I was posted on to a ward with elderly patients who had multiple issues and were DNR – do not resuscitate – if anything escalated,” she recalls. “I had to take bloods and vital signs, prescribe medications, certify deaths and phone and update family members every day because they couldn’t see their loved one. My ‘breaking bad news’ training at dental school simply involved telling patients, ‘I’m so sorry, I couldn’t save your tooth’ and yet here I was, having to tell distraught family members over the phone, ‘I’m so sorry, but we can’t save your father.’ It was a huge learning curve. “I just felt completely helpless and wished I could have given them the detail that the other medical registrars were able to. But I had no medical training for this – I was just a dentist.” She describes many patients having dementia, and the experience of dealing with at least one death a day, which she describes as ‘overwhelming’, she said: “As a dentist in general practice and working as an SHO in maxillofacial surgery, my job was always to fix things. A patient comes in with a problem and I can fix it and see the results. But I didn’t fix anything on the Covid wards – so much was out of our hands and we had to accept”. 
Kent Online: This is what dentists will look like during lockdown as some reopen today
Kent Online reports this morning that dentists are likely to be rushed off their feet and explains how surgeries are going to look very different from before. Moshan Ahmad, a BDA spokesman, said: "Practices are not going to be opening or offering services unless they know it is safe for the patients and their staff.” He added: ”Routine care and cosmetic treatment is probably going to be in a delay phase at this stage, as government guidance says to avoid more of what we classify as unnecessary treatment.” He also explains different practices will be at different stages of readiness today and may not be open as they were only given notice 10 days ago. The piece highlights the BDA’s survey that shows dentistry will be a 'skeleton service' as two-thirds of surgeries plan to stay closed. Only a third of practices said they have enough PPE to provide face-to-face care and just 15% report they will be able to offer a full range of treatment today.
Metro: Have dentists reopened and can I book a routine dental check-up?
This morning’s Metro reports that dentists in England are allowed to reopen today, but says many won’t. It highlights figures from the BDA’s survey, showing only 36 per cent of practices plan to open today, that ‘barely 15 per cent’ are in a position to offer a full range of treatment, and most are only able to provide a ‘skeletal service’, so routine check-ups look largely unlikely, for now. It says the survey also revealed that 60 per cent of practices intend to reopen by the end of June, albeit with limited services.
Dentists face a huge challenge as surgeries reopen during coronavirus crisis
The Express and Star and the Shropshire Star reported that only a third of dental practices in the West Midlands will be reopening today – as dentists reveal that getting back into business has proved a “huge challenge”. It highlights the BDA’s survey that just over a third of practices across the West Midlands will re-open today, at a fraction of their pre-pandemic capacity. It said the majority – 64 per cent of 229 questioned – of dental practices estimate they will be able to treat less than a quarter of the patient numbers they saw before lockdown and barely 11 per cent are in a position to offer a full range of treatment, and only 37 per cent have PPE to hand to provide face-to-face care. The piece quotes BDA Chair Mick Armstrong, who said:  “Practices reopening across the West Midlands now face fewer patients and higher costs and will struggle to meet demand.” 

BBC Radio London: 'We have to be concerned about patient safety'
Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London at lunchtime spoke to BDA member Fiona Granger about the reopening of practices from 8 June and the issues dentists are facing with the BDA warning that the lack of PPE will mean services are being introduced slowly. Fiona said: "As soon as we start seeing a patient we are in very close proximity to their mouth...a small cough or a sneeze... can put us at risk. But equally, we are in close proximity to the patient and we have to be concerned about patient safety and that is paramount." She talked about the increased PPE needed to keep everyone safe:  "We are being asked to wear different they help to filter the air that is coming and going, but these masks require a FIT test, to make sure they are fitting correctly around the mouth... and this is difficult to come by, and a lot of colleagues have been going on fit testing courses, so can fit test themselves." She said her practice, unfortunately, won't be opening today, as they haven't had enough time to get everything ready since the guidance come only came out on Thursday. She said their practice would be seeing patients in pain and emergencies only, and AGP treatments would still need to be referred to UDC centres, and will unfortunately still mean a likely queue. 

Listen from 01:37