Coronavirus: Dentists fear they could close without support

More than 600 dentists have warned the government their services risk being 'decimated'.

For anyone with a toothache, getting an appointment at your dentist is no longer an option.  

This week saw practices close their doors to all patients to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.  

Some fear a lack of financial support could force them to close down.  

More than 600 dentists have signed a letter to the Scottish Government urging them to intervene to prevent NHS dental practices from being “decimated”.

Dentists are now dealing with queries on the phone, with the most serious cases referred to central hubs such as health centres or dental hospitals.

If a patient is showing no Covid-19 symptoms they can be given advice or a prescription.

Only serious cases including swelling, bleeding or trauma are sent to a designated site such as a health centre or dental hospital.

Last week the Scottish Government agreed to continue to pay practices 90% of NHS funding.

However, dentists that rely more heavily on patient charges could see their finances hit hard.

Drew Gibson runs two NHS practices in Bearsden, with around 13,000 registered patients.

“I think there will be a significant number of practices that will be in financial difficulty in a short period of time,” he said.

“Medical, pharmaceutical, optical and so on are receiving 100% funding and that is something that we are not receiving at this moment in time and I would certainly urge the Scottish Government to look at that purely from the viability of the jobs within dental practices and so on.”

However, officials say they are doing all they can to keep all practices open.

Chief dental officer for Scotland Tom Ferris told STV: “We are working really hard in the background to see if we can identify additional resource to support those practices that are more dependent on that patient charge for revenue.  

“They are not going to have no hit.  Every business is going to take a bit of a hit from this process and there will be an impact on practices.  

“We hope to do as much as we can to make sure they are in the place to ride out that storm and be there for us when we get to the other end.”

Details of additional funding are expected next week.