- Published: Tuesday, 06 July 2021 07:51
- Written by Chris Tapper
- Hits: 2283
The British Dental Association has written to the new Secretary of State for Health asking for his commitment to developing “A clear roadmap to recovery.”
In an open letter sent to Sajid Javid, signed by Chair Dr Eddie Crouch and Dr Shawn Charlwood, the BDA said “As we approach ‘Freedom Day’ our members continue to operate to standard operating procedures designed at the height of the first wave.”
“The result has slashed capacity at practices across England. Millions now have little prospect of securing care, and many dedicated practitioners are thinking twice about their future in this service.”
“If we are to return services to something resembling normality, the ongoing restrictions must be urgently reassessed.”
The BDA said that in order to return for dentists to services to ‘resembling normality,’ there would have to be an urgent reassessment of restrictions.
“We want to see an evidence-based approach, which can enable us to take the safest and fastest route back towards normality.”
The BDA said that although it supported a precautionary approach to working in March 2020, in July 2021 “We have to balance the risks from COVID with clear threats to patients’ oral health and the long-term sustainability of the dental service.”
The BDA emphasised to Mr Javid that the crisis in NHS dental services predated COVID, and has been driven by the target-driven UDA-based contract imposed on dentists in 2006.
“A system of rigid tick boxes and targets has of course been wholly incompatible with providing care in a pandemic.”
“Moving forward we want to ensure we have a model that removes barriers to care, particularly for the most vulnerable, and where dentists would actually choose to build a career.”
“We welcome the messages from both Jo Churchill and NHS England that this model is not sustainable going forward.”
“We hope you are willing to echo the recent sentiment of the Welsh Government, that there can be no going back to this failed system.”
The BDA also called on the Secretary of State to commit to offer England’s dentists capital funding for ventilation equipment, pointing out that it had been provided to every other UK nation.
The letter went on that this “Would help practices cut the gaps between appointments mandated in current guidance, safely increasing access for patients. Again, investment here would more than pay for itself short term, by restoring lost patient charge revenues.”
Dr Crouch told the BDA News website “The PM says we have to learn to live with COVID, but that message will be lost on millions still unable to access dental care.
“To make any progress we need a clear roadmap to ease restrictions. NHS dentistry was in crisis before COVID struck, and we now face unprecedented backlogs, widening oral health inequality and workforce looking for the exit.
“Urgent action is required to guarantee the future of this service. It is a logical extension of any ‘levelling up’ agenda, and Ministers must take this opportunity to build back better and fairer.”
The BDA’s full letter can be found here.
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