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​BDA adds support to concerns over impact on care home staff of new points-based immigration system

9 July 2020

The British Dental Association (BDA) has added its support to a letter from the Cavendish Coalition to the Prime Minister about concerns over the proposed points-based immigration system and potential impact on the social care sector.

The letter outlines the precarious position of social care and the need to ensure future immigration proposals to take account of this. It highlights that although the proposed new system does include migratory routes for registered health and care professionals, it excludes social care staff.

Those working in social care, especially care homes have a role to play in maintaining the oral health of residents. Staff shortages could mean oral health care is not prioritised, causing unnecessary dental pain and complications for care home residents.

Chair of the BDA’s England Community Dental Services Committee, Charlotte Waite said:

“Oral health hasn’t always been a priority in care homes, and during the current pandemic, the situation has become even more precarious.

“No vulnerable patient should ever be left in pain, unable to eat, drink or communicate. Sadly high turnover means many staff can lack adequate knowledge and training in how to care for oral health of their residents.

“Any new immigration system must provide a stable migratory route for social care staff – they are essential key workers, and the services they provide help contribute to the work other NHS staff do, including dental teams.”

The Cavendish Coalition is calling for Government to ensure a transitional solution is put in place for social care from January 2021 to ease the gap between the introduction of the new immigration system, and a longer term-plan and funding settlement for social care in England.

The Coalition feel that the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the gulf between social care services and NHS services, exposing vulnerabilities in funding, market stability, data, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), testing, and workforce issues.

The letter also highlights a recent survey of health and care workers, which shows one in five are likely to leave their roles following the pandemic, and that retention will become a growing problem for the sector.

The BDA has been campaigning to ensure improvements are made for oral health in care homes, and we welcomed the Care Quality Commission's 2019 report which highlighted that many in care homes in England are not getting good oral health care.

We’ve also recently highlighted the negative impact COVID-19 has been having on many in care homes and the need for the dental profession to work collaboratively with medical and social care providers to ensure the oral health needs of older and more vulnerable people are not forgotten.