COVID shutting down dental practicesBDA Scotland and the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh is warning COVID-19 could cause dental practices in Scotland to shut.

They point to a decrease in the number of patients through the doors due to new infection control measures.

RCSEd goes on to point out the NHS is providing ‘very little towards treatment’. Although the Scottish government says it has offered ‘unprecedented support’ to NHS dentistry.

‘I think we are in a dental health crisis,’ says David McColl, chair of BDA Scotland.

‘You might see more practices saying we can’t afford to run a service like this with NHS funding. Instead they’ll turn private.

‘Then you’d have a two-tier system where if you can afford it you can get the treatment, if you can’t, you won’t.’

Dental access problems

Professor Philip Taylor, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at RCSEd, believes this could exacerbate access problems.

He points out many of the practices that could close are likely more reliant on NHS fees. These are often found in poorer parts of big cities around Scotland.

The BBC reports that some dental practices are only capable of seeing 20% of the patients they could pre-COVID.

‘We want to get back to treating our patients and have a fair system that is not target-driven,’ Mr McColl continues.

‘None of us wants this two-tier system . We need universal access for all.’

NHS dentistry investments

Tom Ferris claims NHS Scotland is making £12m worth of payments every month to support dental practices.

The chief dental office for Scotland says dentists have received 80% of their gross fees during the pandemic. This increased to 85% from the 1 November.

He also points out that a 2.8% pay rise for dentists will get backdated to April.

‘The government is continuing to provide an unprecedented amount of financial support to ensure the continuity of NHS dental services,’ he says.

‘We are working to ensure NHS dental services emerge from this crisis well placed to care for the oral health of the population. We will continue to work collaboratively with the dental sector in developing a new model of care.’