There will be no return to ‘business as usual’ for dentistry in Yorkshire as less than half (42%) of region’s practices will be reopening on Monday 8 June, at a fraction of their pre-pandemic capacity, a new poll for the British Dental Association shows.
Across the Yorkshire region statistics show: that the majority (over 70%) of dental practices estimate they will be able to treat less than quarter of the patient numbers they saw pre-COVID.Barely 16% are in position to offer a full range of treatment, with capacity to offer Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs), using high speed instruments, that constitute the majority of activityKey drivers include PPE shortages.
Only 1/3 of the region’s practices have PPE to hand to provide face-to-face care with only 25% reporting they have been fit tested to use them.
Dentists have also indicated other barriers with a high impact on their plans for reopening, including emerging from cash flow problems (72%), difficulties getting practices ready for social distancing (72%), and access to childcare (43%) - where failure to offer necessary clarity on their key worker status has seen children turned away from schools and nurseries.
While over 80% of practices expect to reopen to some level by the end of June, major constraints will remain on the service.
Decontamination and social distancing policies mean longer treatment slots, with surgeries sometimes sitting fallow between patients – leaving many practices unable to maintain their financial viability in the face of fewer patients and higher costs.
The BDA has said these grim findings underline the need for support from government. It has called for immediate clarification on key worker status for dental team members, and action on PPE supplies.
Dental practices are among the only businesses on the high street still paying business rates, with even the bookmakers receiving rates relief.
Sector leaders have also called for vital support like the furlough scheme – that 80% of practices have made use of – not to be pulled away prematurely when levels of clinical activity remains so low.
Dr Andrea Ubhi who runs a Dental clinic in York says:
British Dental Association Chair Mick Armstrong said:
Those expecting dentistry to magically return on Monday will find only a skeleton service.