Tuesday 29 September 2020
Providing dental services are almost impossible, and patients are suffering
BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Breakfast show yesterday morning reported on a Healthwatch Gloucestershire ‘mystery shopper’ exercise, looking at dental access in the County. They phoned every NHS dental surgery in the county and said only three practices said they could provide urgent treatment. Ten per cent said they were willing to take new private patients, but over half said their waiting lists weren’t open for NHS treatment at the moment. Manager of Healthwatch Gloucestershire, Helen Webb said: “The fact that people couldn’t access dental care whilst in pain is the most disgusting thing’.
In response, the programme spoke to BDA Board Chair, Eddie Crouch who said: ‘’Yes, it does concern me, but it doesn’t surprise me sadly. This is a situation that we’ve got across the whole of the UK, providing dental services, the way we were pre-COVID is almost impossible for our colleagues and unfortunately, many patients have been suffering.” He explained that many practices work on a mixed model where the private income subsidises the NHS provision. He said: “The agreement we’ve reached with NHS England is that practices continue to provide the same percentage of private/NHS treatment that they were doing pre-COVID. The difficulty that many private practices have is that much of the support been offered by the Chancellor has not been there for private dental practices, and if some of these practices go to the wall, then some of the NHS provision will go with it.” He added: “The BDA has come out quite strongly telling dentists that this agreement with NHS England is there to support their practice, and if they behave in a way where they are coercing patients into private treatment when they could provide that on the NHS, is not something I would ever condone.” He highlighted the problem with access to NHS dental services pre-COVID, and the fact over 4m patients were already struggling to get seen. In closing, he said: “.... the real worry is that many patients are still suffering. We had nearly 1m patients a month being triaged by dental practices when were closed from end March to the start of June. It’s taken many practices a long time to get through that backlog.”
Listen at 01:18
Dentists' leaders warn of 'private-only' system
The Herald reports on Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd)’s Faculty of Dental Surgery’s warning that Scotland could end up with a private-only system if COVID-19 restrictions are not lifted and practices do not receive additional support. The Faculty says the profession has been ‘uniquely disadvantaged’ and there has been a lack of 'meaningful support' from the Scottish Government. Iain Gray, Labour MSP for East Lothian said ‘an impasse’ on PPE had led to a situation where patients are being told they can be treated privately but not on the NHS. The Scottish Government said it had worked with procurement teams to ensure a 'robust' supply of PPE is available to NHS dentists 'free of charge.'
Monday 28 September
Dentists fear closures and warn it could take five years to repair damage inflicted by COVID shutdown
The Sunday Post reports on that Scotland’s dental health may take five years to recover to its pre-lockdown state, according to the Scottish Dental Practice Owners Group. Commenting in the piece, the BDA’s Chair of the Scottish Dental Practice Committee, David McColl said: “The future of Scotland’s dental services still hangs in the balance. Over six challenging months, our teams have responded well, but at considerable cost. Staff are stressed and facing information overload from all quarters. What they need is definitive guidance and support. The pandemic has shone a light on the broken model at the heart of NHS dentistry. It’s the right time for ministers to look afresh and provide firm foundations and fair funding.”
Alert issued as dental check ups in north Kirklees fall
The Dewsbury Post reports that the number of patients up to date with their dentist check-ups in North Kirklees has dropped during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures show. The BDA says patient access across England has “fallen off a cliff” since March, warning tens of millions of patients could lose out on dental care. Figures from NHS Digital show 81,032 adults were seen by a dentist in NHS North Kirklees CCG in the two years to the end of June - the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s recommended longest interval between check-ups. This was 2% fewer than had been seen in the two years to the end of March - around the time the vast majority of dentists were forced to close because of the coronavirus lockdown. But the BDA warns the latest statistics do not fully show the “unprecedented fall in access” driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. The BDA says practices face significant barriers to expand capacity, warning tens of millions of patients in England will effectively lose access to dental services unless current regulations evolve.
Are dentists open now – and when will appointments return to normal?
The Huffington Post answers a readers question, “When do we expect dentists to resume routine procedures, such as fillings?”. The response includes a comment from BDA Chair Eddie Crouch saying that a date hasn’t yet been provided for when routine NHS dental appointments will resume across the board.