Record number call NHS for dental treatment in face of COVID-19
Dental care referrals in the West Midlands have spiked to the highest level ever recorded as the suspension of routine dentistry continues in response to COVID-19.
In April, 10,292 callers were redirected to urgent dental care (UDC) hubs after ringing NHS 111 with oral health concerns, reports The Express and Star.
This means one in 10 of all NHS 111 calls in the West Midlands region led to treatment advice involving a dental problem.
The news website reports these figures are two and a half times higher than referral levels in March – and the highest number since statistics were first recorded in July 2017.
This comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night announced that non-essential shops will be able to open their doors on 15th June. These include high street shops and department stores.
With private dentistry heading into its tenth week of suspension, many dental professionals are calling on a return to practice to save dentistry and help the nation’s oral health.
According to current government support guidelines, a £10,000 relief grant is available for businesses whose rates fall below the £15,000 mark – leaving many practices without financial help.
Many associates are also left unsupported as a result of the £50,000 cap on the self employment income support scheme.
Scotland’s ‘back to work’ plans
Last week, Tom Ferris, the chief dental officer for Scotland, released ‘return to work’ plans for dental practices.
The three-phase guidelines focus on getting dental teams back in the practice as the pandemic begins to ease.
He writes: ‘We need to take into consideration the added risk of aerosol generating procedures on COVID-19 transmission; the availability of appropriate PPE is also a major consideration in how we shape the recovery and mobilise NHS dental services.’
No specific timeframe has been provided. However, the CDO hopes to have ‘made some progress’ by 31 July 2020, with all dental practices open for face-to-face consultations at the minimum.
Find out more about Dentistry’s Back to Practice campaign.