Go to content

Out of Hours restored in Northern Ireland, except for Western area

Out of Hours services have been restored for dentists in the Eastern (Belfast/South-Eastern), Northern and Southern LDC areas.

This will provide cover for weekends and public/bank holidays, for all except the Western area.

Emergency Dental Centres (EDCs), usually referred to colloquially as out of hours cover, were stood down at the beginning of the pandemic. Urgent Dental Care Centres were set up to plug the gap.

This meant dentists were effectively required to remain on-call over weekends and public holidays. That’s why we’ve been pushing for the reintroduction of proper out of hours cover across Northern Ireland. EDCs are needed to reduce the stress and improve the morale among already over-stretched professionals.

Practices who have opted to join the Emergency Dental Centres (EDC) rota will have already received:

  • A letter containing information on the re-establishment of the EDCs
  • An EDC poster for your practice
  • A script for your answerphone message.

The option of using the EDC facility to meet the emergency cover requirements of the GDS Regulations is available only to those practitioners who are on the rota or have applied to join it via the recent surveys. If you would like to join, and have not already done so, you can apply by emailing [email protected].

It is not directly applicable to orthodontists, DFTs or Oral Surgeons (although Oral Surgeons may wish to work in the EDCs).

Unfortunately, there remains no EDC available to dentists in the Western area. This is an historic issue pre-dating COVID. In Northern Ireland, LDCs organise the rotas, and the Department pays for the shifts.

Further conversation between the Western LDC and Strategic Planning and Performance Group within the Department of Health is needed to find a solution that works for practitioners and patients in the West.