Dentists facing uphill struggle, as missed appointments top 14m
Official data on activity seen by the BDA indicates treatments delivered by NHS dental services in England are at a quarter of pre-Covid levels and have only begun to inch above typical demand for urgent care, which is currently receiving priority. Over 14.5m fewer treatments have been delivered in 2020 compared to the same period last year.
Dentists have been required to maintain 60-minute windows between patients after an aerosol generating procedure (AGP) to minimise risks of viral transmission, contributing to this dramatic fall in patient volumes. Recent recommendations by the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) – which are widely anticipated to inform official guidance across the UK – could reduce this ‘fallow period’ to as little as 10 minutes where dentists can demonstrate a sufficient number of air changes per hour (ACH) in their surgeries.
The BDA has stressed that if practices – both NHS and private – are required to make changes to adhere to new official advice, then government will need to provide financial support.