Dentists to reopen from June 8
Dental practices in England have been informed that they are able to reopen from June 8, as long as they have stringent safety measures in place.
Routine dental care in England has been on hold since March 25, and while the British Dental Association [BDA] was warm to the news, there are still concerns over access to personal protective equipment [PPE].
During the suspension of routine care, patients with emergency dental issues have been referred to one of the many Urgent Dental Care [UDC] hubs that have been opened across the country, which have been geared up to provide treatment while adhering to social distancing restrictions.
However, the UDC hubs have been blighted by PPE shortages and a raft of other problems, meaning some patients have been left untreated.
Writing to dental practices across the country, NHS England’s chief dental officer Sara Hurley said: "Today, we are asking that all dental practices commence opening from Monday, June 8 for all face-to-face care, where practices assess that they have the necessary IPC and PPE requirements in place."
Some of the safety measures expected of dentists to enable them to reopen were disclosed in the letter, and included steps such as limiting the capacity of waiting rooms and spacing chairs apart, having practice staff regularly tested, and installing plastic shields in reception areas between staff and patients.
But the BDA stressed that practices being able to reopen would depend on the supply of PPE.
Its chairman Mick Armstrong said: "It is right to allow practices to decide themselves when they are ready to open. Dentists will be keen to start providing care as soon as is safely possible, but we will need everyone to be patient as practices get up and running.
"Dentists can open their doors but won't be able to provide a full range of care without the necessary kit. Longer term, practices can only stay afloat with ongoing support, while social distancing continues and the costs of providing care are sky high."