Nearly two in five (37 per cent) of young dentists in the UK say they are worried about the impact of Covid-19 on their wellbeing, according to a new Dental Protection survey.
In the snapshot survey of dentists who qualified in the last five years, 49 per cent went on to say the backlog in patient treatments due to Covid-19 is impacting on their mental wellbeing.
Over a third (35 per cent) said the backlog had resulted in them working additional hours, and just under half (49 per cent) said they feel positive about their future in dentistry.
The survey was conducted prior to the NHS announcement that more than 350,000 additional dentist appointments are to be made available to patients in England over the coming months, with dentists working over weekends and into the night to try and tackle the backlog of care built up by the pandemic.
Comments from young dentists who participated in the survey:
- “The backlog is a worry because patients take it out on the dental staff and not the NHS who set how we work within the system.”
- “Mental health is in tatters, go to work for an NHS practice in a deprived area, deal with rude ungrateful and verbally abusive and intimidating patients all day to no thanks.”
- “I can’t cope anymore. I’m moving practice but if the situation with people’s rudeness doesn’t improve I will be leaving healthcare.”
George Wright, senior dental educator at Dental Protection, said, “We are now almost two years into the pandemic, during which time dental professionals have faced a plethora of challenges; not least being expected to adhere to guidelines which have affected the operating capacity of many practices and resulted in a backlog of patients with outstanding treatment.
“Indeed, during recent months, requests to Dental Protection for advice and support have centred around handling complaints from patients because treatment has been delayed or because they can’t access treatment quickly because of backlogs of work.
“We know this is challenging for members, both from a professional and personal perspective. The cumulative effects of stress have affected the wellbeing of the whole dental team – and as this survey shows, the impact on the mental wellbeing of newly qualified dentists is also significant.
“It is particularly worrying that under half of the early career dentists surveyed say they feel positive about their future in the dentistry. We know that clearing the backlog is an overwhelming prospect for the whole dental team, but it is imperative that these young dentists – the future of the profession – feel supported and engaged by the whole system so they can continue in this rewarding profession.
“I would encourage young dentists experiencing work-related stress to make use of our counselling service which is a member benefit. This service is delivered by ICAS’ independent, qualified counsellors who are available 24/7. A range of wellbeing resources are also available including apps, podcasts and webinars at www.dentalprotection.org/uk/wellbeing.”