Dentists request ‘urgent help’ with only a third set to reopen

Dentists are requesting 'urgent help' with only a third set to open in Suffolk. Picture: Getty Image

Dentists are struggling with the abuse from patients. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dentists across Suffolk will need urgent support to avoid a ‘likely collapse’ in patient access, say the British Dentist Association (BDA) as only a third of practices will reopen today.

The BDA has taken aim at Secretary of Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock in an open letter as new statistics show that two thirds of practises say they do not have the necessary PPE to resume face-to-face care.

According to the new report only a third of dentists plan to reopen in the East of England today and 60% say they will only be able to treat a quarter of their previous patient numbers.

The organisation could not provide a list of which practices will be open.

BDA chair Mick Armstrong said: “Today high street dentistry was meant to start resuming across England. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

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“Few practices have opened their doors, and those that did were operating at a fraction of their pre-pandemic capacity.

“The Health Secretary must now take responsibility to avert the existential crisis facing a service struggling with sky-high costs and radically reduced patient numbers.

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“For years, communities from Cornwall to Cumbria struggled to get appointments but were ignored. Without action from this Government access problems – on an unprecedented scale - are going to be visited on millions of patients, in every part of England.”

In the letter, the BDA demanded urgent action from across government to provide clarity on key worker status - which has seen dentists unable to access childcare, to integrate the service into official PPE supply chains, and for ongoing financial support, including extension of business rates relief.

Their nationwide survey which asked more than 2,000 practices about their plans to reopen revealed that only 35% said they would open today in the East of England.

Two thirds said they would only be able to treat less than a quarter of their patients and less than 15% said they will be able to offer a full range of treatment.

The report suggests only a third of the region’s practices have PPE, which allows them to provide face-to-face care, to hand.

More than 92% of dentists also say PPE will have some form of impact on how they will be able to open their practises.

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