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Ventilation funding case made to Department

Last week, we issued an urgent appeal via the Local Dental Committees in Northern Ireland for details on how much money dental practices have already spent, or were planning to spend, on upgraded ventilation.

The data received reinforced our argument that the required level of spend by practices is impossible to absorb in this climate, and requires assistance from the NI Executive.

We’ve always been clear with the Department that there is a mental and physical limit to how many Level 2 PPE procedures dentists and nurses can be expected to undertake in a given day. However, it is also increasingly clear that a lack of ventilation in some practices is preventing them from reaching their maximum physical capacity. These practices urgently need financial support.

Over 102 dental practices – nearly 30% of all NI dental practices - responded to our appeal.

Respondents had either spent, or intended to spend, a total of over half a million pounds with an average spend per practice of £5,400. This suggests that dental practices in Northern Ireland could collectively spend nearly £2 million on ventilation upgrades in 2020/21.

In a welcome move, the Department has confirmed that it will be use the details you supplied to support a bid to the Department of Finance to use a proportion of unspent COVID funding to reimburse dental practices for newly installed ventilation.

If the bid for ventilation funding is approved, it’s likely that any scheme will operate in the same manner as the past Revenue Grant Schemes where there will be a very short window before the end of March to apply for funding.

Should the bid not be approved, we will continue to argue on your behalf for additional funding to be allocated to the 2021/22 GDS budget to cover increased ventilation costs and the myriad of other COVID related costs such as PPE.