Tuesday 7 July 2020
Metro: Social distancing measures are leading to extra costs for dentists and other ‘close contact’ businesses
Businesses that have to be in close contact with their customers, such as hairdressers and dental practices, are having to adapt to the new rules of social distancing and COVID safety measures, the Metro reports. The article points out that while many close contact businesses are now open in England, they are having to follow government guidance, which calls for mitigating actions to reduce the risk of contracting covid-19. It also notes that that these measures cause businesses extra expense, such as the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE). The article quotes Mick Armstrong, the chair of the British Dental Association, who explained that dentists can only operate at a quarter capacity and are facing PPE costs that have increased by 6000%, due to the pandemic. He notes that without government support many dental practices may close. The article profiles Harley Street dentist Patrick Tarrant, who is glad to be able to re-open but has had to spend £15,000 on adapting to social distancing and is having to charge his patients a surcharge of £45 for the cost of PPE.
Monday 6 July
Mail on Sunday: Dentists: We need to fill cash hole
The Mail on Sunday featured an interview with chair of BDA Dental Practice Committee, David McColl as Scotland enters phase three of the route out of lockdown, when 'routine' treatments can be carried out again from July 13. The article points out that dentists fear social distancing and other restrictions will mean they can treat only a fraction of the patients they did previously, massively reducing their income. But – as the article notes – they still face the same costs for staff, equipment, cleaning and bills – as well as increased bills for PPE in the private sector, and infection control measures. The Scottish Government provides PPE for NHS dental practices but David pointed out that other costs have to be considered and talking about 'routine' care from the 13th sends out the wrong message. He explained that most practices provide a mixture of NHS and private with treatments, such as white fillings, subsidising the underfunded service. He added: 'Without that activity going on a lot of practices would go under, [as] NHS dentistry is chronically underfunded. We've had a financial stability package but as practices start opening again this needs to start going up.' Dentist Andrew Scott in Aberdeen said: 'Private practices have had no support and have been under great financial pressure. It is causing a lot of stress and mental health problems. We need more financial help.'
A Scottish Government spokesman said: 'We have provided additional funding to NHS dental services during the period of lockdown and will be maintaining this as dental practices begin to open. 'We will keep this funding under review to protect NHS dental services. We would also encourage private practices to take advantage of the range of business support initiatives available from the Scottish Government and UK Government.'
Not available online
The Shetland Times: Extra protection for dentists visits
The Shetland Times reports that some dental visits have resumed in Shetland, but with a host of new measures in place to prevent patients spreading the virus. Patients need to contact their dental practice, phoning first to see if they are able to have a face to face appointment. When they visit a dental practice a patient will need to observe social distancing guidelines and will notice that dentists are wearing personal protective equipment. NHS Shetland has acknowledged that these conditions are not ideal, but they must follow national guidelines. David McColl of the British Dental Association said the resumption of appointments would come as a great relief. He noted that it came after dentists had been waiting a number of weeks for clear guidance and a firm response. He also noted that the fragmented response to re-opening dental clinics had led to widespread confusion.
Not available online
LawPod: Challenges for Dentistry during Pandemic
Our Head of Indemnity, Len D'Cruz, has done a LawPod podcast on dentistry and the pandemic.