Dentists ‘left in dark’ over restart date of NHS services

Dentists say they have been disrespected by the lack of consultation over the reinstatement of NHS dentistry.

Disgruntled dentists say they have been disrespected by the lack of consultation regarding the reinstatement of NHS services on November 1.

The Scottish Government announced the return on Monday, but members of the Scottish Dental Association said they only discovered the news through the media.

The recently-formed body claim the patient backlog and “chronic underfunding” of dentistry is leaving the industry facing a crisis.

SDA member Dr Emma-Louise Colvin says: “We are facing a crisis. Morale is rock bottom. 43% say they can’t cope with the stresses in their job and 63% of that saying it relates directly to NHS work.

“The second crisis is the chronic underfunding and the lack of preventative care for our patients.”

With NHS services suspended since March, dentists figure the backlog could take as long as three years to clear.

But with sufficient fallow time needed between each patient to disinfect the room and tools, the number of patients dentists can see is slashed to on average 20% capacity.

Dr Mohammed Samad of Carntyne dental practice says: “We can’t let patients into the building they have to wait outside.

“They have to do screening forms. We obviously have to put appropriate PPE on.

Everything is just taking so much longer so the amount of backlog resulted from that is going to be immense.”

Chief dental officer Tom Ferris explained the key stakeholders were told of the changes coming in next month.

He said a glitch in their system meant that a letter intended for all dentists announcing the return of NHS services didn’t go out at the correct time.

He added: “I thought it’s been signalled since May that it was coming. 

“Perhaps the exact date took some people by surprise but the system of notifying dentists was pretty much as it was before apart from that timing issue which was unfortunate.”

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