Six-month dental wait condemned

Dentists have warned patients could be left in pain because they are being blocked from offering a full service until 2021 under coronavirus guidance laid out by the Welsh Government.

Surgeries are reopening today (8 June) across England, but the rules are different in Wales where only urgent cases are allowed.

It means many people could face months of either being prescribed painkillers and antibiotics or simply having to put up with toothache.

Monmouth MP David Davies has been looking into the issue after being contacted by patients and by dentists who are desperate to get back to work.

One of them is Chris Lodge, a partner of Lodge Dental Group which has practices in Abergavenny and New Inn.

“The new rules mean that no work can be done with a drill until 2021. As this is required for most treatments, we will be reverting to a Victorian approach of either taking teeth out or leaving people in pain,” he said.

“This is completely unnecessary. Dentists are already experts in preventing infections and in the use of PPE.

“I have put in place a plan to deal with the threat of Covid-19 which involves giving patients a designated parking space where they will wait to be called into the surgery, the use of adequate PPE, and afterwards using an air purifier which can clean the air in a room of any trace of a virus within seven minutes before bringing another patient in.”

Since 17 March, dentists in Wales have been prevented from carrying out all but essential treatment.

Patients needing procedures such as high-speed drilling have been sent to newly-created urgent dental centres (UDC).

From July, the UDCs will get more of a role but patients will be reassessed in their usual practices.

In October practices can treat patients who require regular dental work, as well as those who have had non-urgent treatment delayed or postponed.

Only from January 2021 would routine assessment and care be reinstated.

Dr David Guppy, from The Mayhill Dental and Specialist Centre in Monmouth, also criticised the rules.

He said: “People are going to be put through needless pain while dental professionals are being prevented from making a living for months on end.

“We cannot run a business based on handing out antibiotics and painkillers and it would be bad for the patient for us to do so.

“Businesses will shortly face closure, staff will be made redundant and professionals will have to move to England in order to work, taking their skills with them.”

Mr Davies said he had written to Health Minister Vaughan Gething asking him to personally step in and get dental surgeries opening up in line with England.

“The Welsh Government must stop dragging its heels and let dentists reopen and offer a full range of services,” he added.

“If we do not act quickly there will be long-term oral health implications for people.”

Attachments

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Letter to Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services 290.31 KB