A number of dentists in Northern Ireland are considering pulling out of providing NHS dental care, as the continuation of Covid-19 restrictions have created a system that is “not viable”.
Fallow time after aerosol generating procedures has meant that many practices are operating at a reduced capacity. Ciara Gallagher, the principal of Mullan Gallagher Dental Care in Downpatrick, explained to the BBC that “NHS dentistry is a high-volume service” and relies on high numbers of patients being treated to increase revenue. However, as restrictions prohibit high numbers, sufficient revenue is not being made.
As such, switching to providing private dental care is being considered by some dentists in Northern Ireland, with a survey by the British Dental Association revealing that 59 per cent may reduce their health service commitment over the next year because of the restrictions, whilst 39 per cent are considering leaving the practice altogether.
Whilst Ciara has decided to remain an NHS dental care provider, she admitted to the BBC that had felt conflicted, saying, "I own this business and I run this business, and I want it to be a success, and part of that is having enough revenue to reward your staff and reward your team. And the other half of it is, I'm a healthcare professional, and if you need me, I need to be there for you regardless of the cost.”