The BDA is calling for more in-hours urgent care slots to be commissioned for dental patients to ease pressure on A&E departments.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen has written to the chief dental officer for England suggesting this could improve access to urgent dental care whilst reducing costly visits to A&E and GPs for dental complaints.
‘No one is in any doubt, not least the CDO, that our NHS hospital and GP services are bursting at the seams and how, unwittingly, dental attendances are adding to these pressures,’ Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, chair of General Dental Practice at the British Dental Association (BDA), said.
‘We believe dentists can ease this burden if more slots were commissioned for in-hours urgent care.
‘This would ease the frustration for patients who cannot get the care they need from seeing their GP or going to A&E.
‘Ensuring that patients are treated in the right place, at the right time, by the right team is essential, both to ensure appropriate diagnosis and treatment for patients and to help optimise the NHS’s finite resources.
‘We’re sure this would also make it easier for NHS 111 to do their job because they would know where to direct patients for urgent dental care.’
Cost to the NHS
It also estimates that more than 95,000 patients attend A&E every year with toothache, costing the NHS £12.5 million, while a further 600,000 patients seek treatment from their GPs.
‘Ministers keep underestimating how much their indifference to dentistry has knock-on effects across the health service,’ Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, chair of General Dental Practice at the British Dental Association (BDA), said at the time.
‘GPs and A&E medics are having to pick up the pieces, while government’s only strategy is to ask our patients to pay more in to plug the funding gap.
‘We are seeing patients who need our care pushed towards medical colleagues who aren’t equipped to treat them.
‘As long as government keeps slashing budgets, and ramping up charges we will keep seeing more of the same.’