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​Dentists press for funded urgent time to deliver Hancock's vision on antibiotics

24 January 2019


Following the Health Secretary Matt Hancock's launch of a new plan to meet the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the BDA has urged NHS England to finally commit to properly funded urgent slots to reduce the pressure to issue unnecessary dental prescriptions.


The plan sets out the government's ambition to contain AMR by 2040. UK dental practices have made huge strides to make sure that antibiotics are used appropriately in oral health care. Dentists are nevertheless still responsible for 5.2% of all prescriptions. 


The time pressures under the GDS NHS contract have given little flexibility to dentists. Properly funded urgent time would enable dentists to establish a differential diagnosis and provide appropriate interventive treatment using adjunctive antibiotics only when necessary.  


The Health Secretary warned "we are on the cusp of a world where a simple graze could be deadly". Currently 25,000 people die each year in Europe from sepsis caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria, and a recent report by MPs estimated that up to 10 million could die per year by 2050, more than from cancer and diabetes combined.


The BDA has taken a lead role in developing measures to help dentists to reduce dental antibiotic prescribing, and has contributed to the Department of Health and Social Care's Human Health AMR Stakeholder Group, which has been developing this strategy and vision to address AMR.


To mark the launch, the BDA and partners at the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP) have released the latest version of their Antimicrobial Prescribing Self-Audit Tool, which is designed to be used alongside FGDP's Antimicrobial Prescribing for General Dental Practitioners guidance to help colleagues build on their success in reducing prescriptions.


BDA President Susie Sanderson said:


"Antimicrobial resistance represents an existential threat to human health. This profession has made huge strides, but real progress now requires a long term investment.   


"Where patients require direct interventions to treat infections this requires clinical time, which is at a premium in a target driven system. Antibiotics are not and should not be considered a substitute when it comes to managing these conditions. But the reality is that it takes time to discuss treatment options with patients, explain when antibiotics are not appropriate and then deliver the most appropriate care. 


"Delivering funded urgent time would send the clearest possible signal that NHS England is committed to helping dentists win the battle against antibiotic resistance."


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We campaign on a range of issues for better working lives for dentists and we work to improve the oral health of the nation. Find out more about our work on sugar and children’s oral health, teeth whitening, antibiotic prescribing, and oral cancer.


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