Friday 16 October 2020
NI dentist honoured for services to the COVID-19 response
The Portadown Times features a story on dentist Derek Maguire receiving an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Dr Maguire has been at the forefront in helping navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic which has significantly impacted dental practices. With colleagues in the CDS, he helped to establish five Urgent Dental Care Centres on Trust Sites and set up a triage system, to ensure patients were seen in a timely manner. He said: “In my 33 years in dentistry, this collaboration between General Dental Services and the Community Dental Service has been one of the most outstanding achievements. Without doubt, it is one of the finest examples of how dentistry can work to treat all sectors of the population, whilst at the same time ensuring staff safety - and I am extremely proud to have played a small part in it.” His practice is a BDA Good Practice Scheme member.
Thursday 15 October
The value of dentistry and how it has changed during the pandemic
The morning, Caroline Martin, presenter of
BBC Radio West Midlands mid-morning programme interviewed BDA chair Eddie Crouch on the state of dentistry now, following a ‘gruesome’ report in the news of a man who had such severe toothache that he consumed eight pints of larger before ‘yanking’ out his own tooth because he couldn’t get an NHS appointment. Eddie agreed with the presenter that you’ve got to be desperate to resort to this and explained that access to care was restricted during lockdown. Dentists, he said, were only able to see 2% of the patients that they would normally see and added that we have heard many of these [DIY] stories though he hoped this was a rare occurrence now as there is a system in place where most dental practices prioritise people in that situation.
When asked to outline how dentistry has changed, Eddie said it wasn’t the same as it was in February, due to social distancing and enhanced infection control measures. He explained that to maintain social distance, the waiting room looked different or if there was a car park you might be asked to stay out in the car before being called in for treatment. He also told listeners that they might see people wearing kit similar to those worn in intensive care units, this could include wearing a respirator type mask. He emphasised dentists’ expertise in infection control, saying that dentists have a fantastic record of being one of the safest services before the pandemic and were adaptable to the new situation.
On the issue of whether dentists received all the support they needed to get through the pandemic, Eddie said dentists were looking for the same support as other businesses, but this was not the case. He said he spoke to a colleague who did an FOI search of Droitwich in Worcestershire and discovered that every business on the high street got relief from business rates, including betting shops, except for dental practices. He also pointed out that 101 MPs had written to the chancellor asking him to support dentists but Eddie thought he hadn’t replied yet. The BDA chair explained that most practices operate on a ‘mixed’ model basis, private and NHS and said it was important to support both because if the private sector collapses it would put a massive strain on the NHS.
The presenter asked if there was a dental ‘time bomb’, to which Eddie replied that three million people were triaged during lockdown and it has taken a long time to see them and get them out of trouble. He emphasised the importance of picking up dental problems early, adding that otherwise treatments can be more invasive. Regarding oral cancers, Eddie stressed the sooner these are picked up the better the prognosis and said some dentists were doing virtual consultations and urged people not to delay getting in touch with a dentist or to phone NHS 111 if they were concerned. When asked if you were more likely to get a dental appointment if you go private, Eddie said it’s possible that there might be more slots available but he would not support any practice that ‘coerces’ patients into having treatment on a private basis. The presenter concluded that if someone is screaming in pain, it might be better to pay for the treatment than having eight pints of beer before removing a tooth.
Listen from approx. 10.15 onwards
I am seeing cases so serious I haven’t seen in years, including a man with an abscess who required immediate admission to hospital
Under normal circumstances, the presenter of
BBC’s Look North (East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) news programme said we used to see a dentist for our six-monthly check-ups but not since the pandemic as dentists can only see a fraction of the patients they did before March and this is having a serious consequences. One woman said that her son had been in pain since lockdown and he has only just got an appointment on 4 November. Health correspondent, Vicky Johnson, cited figures from the British Dental Association which showed that during lockdown dental treatment was down by 98%, and even since then treatments were only back to about 25% of pre-COVID levels. She said so far, 14.5 million fewer treatments were carried out compared to the same period last year. The journalist explained why dentists’ capacity to see patients has been greatly reduced, with a comment from dentist Kepal Sanghi who said that there was poor science behind the fallow period. He also said was that the delays in seeing patients meant he was now seeing serious cases he hadn’t seen for years. This included two with people with serious abscesses on a Friday and two on the following Monday, he said, with one so serious that he needed to be admitted to hospital that day where he stayed for five days.
First item on the news
Monday 12 October
Full suite of NHS dentistry services in Scotland due to resume next month
Plans announced at Holyrood on Monday,
services will be able to restart for patients from November 1. While some were able to resume earlier, including urgent care, full NHS treatments have not yet resumed. Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “This pandemic has been an extremely challenging time for dentistry and I extend my sincerest thanks to the sector for their patience and resilience throughout the period. The Government is committed to ensuring that the needs of patients to be seen for NHS dental treatment can be met in a way that supports efforts in practice to maintain the high standards of health and safety needed to minimise the threat from COVID-19. “Work has been carried out at pace to improve our understanding and risk management COVID-19 transmission in dental settings, allowing for further progress with the NHS dental remobilisation and I am pleased practitioners, from November 1, will be able to provide a full range of treatments to all NHS patients within dental practices.” Despite the reopening, Mr FitzPatrick said the sector will not return to “business as usual” as practices still need to limit the number of patients they see due to the ongoing spread of the virus. He added: “But by making available a full range of treatments for NHS patients, dentists and dental teams will be able to provide a wider range of NHS care, prioritised by clinical judgment and in line with wider public health protection measures.