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In the news week commencing 5 October 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 5 October.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Dental tourists warned not to take 'shot in dark' by following 'photoshopped' social media posts
A holiday and a teeth-whitening trip to Turkey that ended in tragedy for three Northern Irish friends continues to attract press interest. It is understood that two men were admitted to hospital at the weekend and one man died, although the cause of death is unclear.

The Times highlights that Turkey is one of the world’s most popular destinations for medical and dental tourism with about 700,000 visitors a year, according to the Istanbul International Health Tourism Association. The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies predicts that by 2023 it will attract two million health tourists. The Telegraph’s consumer editor, Sam Meadows, states that tourists have been warned not to take a “shot in the dark” based on social media smiles. Several news outlets feature commentary from Professor Damien Walmsley, the BDA’s scientific advisor. He warns people considering "dental tourism" that they need to be confident that their practitioners are well qualified and to be aware that pictures shared on social media could be photoshopped. "Word of mouth recommendations are invaluable," he added. "It's important not to take a shot in the dark based on some of the photoshopped smiles that do the rounds on social media. Many patients who have headed abroad have faced real issues with continuity of care. If things go wrong, you need to know there are safety nets in place, and problems will get sorted."

Yahoo also cites advice from Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation: “Getting treatment in the UK from a dentist registered with the General Dental Council was a "guarantee" of "quality and safety". He added: "Treatment failure, issues around communication, cross-infection control and regulations around treatment can all vary considerably when getting treatment abroad rather than in the UK."


The Telegraph - Dental tourists warned not to take 'shot in dark' by following 'photoshopped' social media posts

Daily Mail - Pictured: British man who died after travelling to Turkey for teeth whitening treatment with two friends who are critically ill

The Guardian - One dead and two critically ill after dental treatment trip to Turkey

‘Dentists are working flat out’ to get through backlog
BDA chair Eddie Crouch spoke to LBC’s Nick Ferrari show yesterday, on the news that 15m appointments have been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions on dental practices. When asked what the reality was for dentists on the frontline, Eddie said: “It’s very grim sadly, my colleagues are working flat out to see as many patients we can, within the restrictions we’ve got at the moment. Some practices are coping better than others, some are seeing some checks-up, but many are trying to deal with the backlog of patients we haven’t seen for several months. And every week we are adding patients to waiting lists for treatment because of restrictions on the types of treatments we can carry out.”


The presenter notes the ‘extraordinary’ measures required for deep cleaning, Eddie responded: “At the moment, if you do anything that involves a spray or a drill, which most of our procedures do, if we are dealing with people with serious problems, it means that we have to keep the surgery completely empty for an hour afterwards, and that reduces the number of patients we can see.” He added: “There was a report produced recently, that we hope PHE will act on quickly, which will allow some surgeries who are able to install equipment that allows air changes, to drop that to around 10 minutes, and that will help us. But that’s going to require investment across the NHS and we hope to have some of that.” The presenter then pointed out that from the NHS data normal monthly average of treatments is 3.3m, but there were only 83,000 in May, and pointed out that the catch up must be huge. Eddie replied: “It is dreadful. Many of my colleagues are trying to work additional hours, are trying to plan their days so they can do aerosol procedures, it might run into lunchtime. We are doing our best. It’s completely frustrating for patients, it must be awful for someone who’s waited for months – and we hear that on a daily basis - with toothache and can’t get it dealt with. And sometimes when it is dealt with, it’s not modern dentistry, but taking the teeth out.” The presenter asked how many patients Eddie would typically see pre and post-COVID, Eddie said that an average surgery sees 30 patients a day, and some dentists are now struggling to see half of that at the moment.


Listen at 01:24


Sky news: data seen by the BDA shows that missed appointments has reached 14 million
This morning’s edition of Sky News Breakfast highlighted that data seen by the British Dental Association shows that the number of missed appointments in England has reached 14 million. This was the backdrop for an interview with London based dentist, Uchenna Okoye, who urged viewers to bear with us while we get through the backlog of cases from lockdown. If dentists were working at normal capacity, she explained, it would take six months to get through this but with the addition of an hour’s fallow time, we’re only able to see around a quarter of the patients we used to see. Uchenna said the BDA and British Association of Private Dentists were working together and we want, as a profession, to see our patients. She emphasised the importance of prevention and said your mouth matters and it affects our health and our immune system. When asked how concerned dentists are about anecdotal stories of DIY dentistry, she said we are very concerned and urged people to call their dentist if they have problems. She said dentists are seeing our patients but we are struggling and urged viewers to lobby their MP for support. She pointed out that children’s dental problems were the main reason for them going to hospital.

Sky News@Breakfast at circa 08.25



Monday 5 October

Coronavirus: dental care ‘timebomb’ leaves Britons unable to have teeth checked

The Sunday Times reports on patients having to wait until next year for dental treatment because 15 million appointments have been delayed by the coronavirus. It highlights that with restrictions still in place, some dentists can see only emergency cases and are not doing routine checkups. Many are carrying out only serious procedures on patients whose teeth have deteriorated from problems “stored up” for months during the lockdown. North Yorkshire dentists Mark Green said: “I’ve taken more teeth out from the average patient in the past three months than at any point in my career, it’s like going back in time. I saw someone the other day in his twenties who needs 12 teeth out.”


The story highlights the BDA’s new analysis of NHS data revealing that 15 million checkups and treatments, such as fillings and root canal work, have been put on hold in England since March. The backlog is particularly devastating for children’s oral health, according to dentists. Before the pandemic dentists would see about 30 a day. NHS data indicates that 83,800 treatments took place in May, compared with a usual monthly average of 3.3 million. Since reopening on June 8, many practices have been operating at a quarter of capacity. In August dentists delivered 811,029 courses of treatment - about 25% of the number typically carried out. Mark Green continued: “There’s going to be a whole generation of children who’ve missed out, interventions are a lot easier and more effective for children [who are seen early] than it is to leave them until there’s a massive issue and then they have to be referred for an extraction.” Children and adults not having checkups or minor issues resolved is a ticking timebomb, he said. The BDA said thousands of clinics were struggling to stay afloat, threatening to leave millions of patients without a dentist. BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said extra costs and fewer patients because of restrictions meant some practices had already closed: “Dentists face an uphill struggle to restore services and get on top of an ever-growing backlog. If practices are going to get more patients back through their doors, it will hinge on support to invest in new kit.”


The piece also features comment from a patient who chipped a tooth and developed an infection and was unable to access treatment - two weeks ago his tooth had to be extracted after a wait of 4½ months. PHE says clinics must have a “fallow time” of 60 minutes after aerosol-generating procedures to allow droplets containing virus particles to settle before cleaning, which the reports says means dentists can see far fewer patients, and points out the rules are more stringent than in other countries. PHE declined to answer questions about why it insists on a one-hour fallow time or its evidence for doing so, and the Department of Health and Social Care also declined to comment. East London dentist Sam Shah said the fallow time had had a “massive impact”, with a reduction of up to 60% in the number of patients that dentists can treat each day. Imelda Redmond, of the Healthwatch England patient group, said: “The pandemic has caused issues in every part of health and care, but the problems in dental care appear particularly acute. Not only is this frustrating, but many have also been left in pain or discomfort as a result.”