Dental Morale Is ‘Terrible’ In NHS

Dental Morale Is ‘Terrible’ In NHS

A city dentist has spoken out as the Manchester Evening News reported “Thousands of Mancunians still struggling to find NHS dentists amid huge backlogs.”

Dr Don McGrath, told a meeting of Manchester council’s health scrutiny committee  that “All practices were independent contractors that balance patients seeking care through the NHS or privately."

The newspaper reported that “The local system is currently operating at 60 per cent capacity compared to pre-pandemic levels, with staff expected to follow strict guidance set by the government.”

Dr McGrath told the committee that “The ongoing pressures on the local system was being caused by the imposition of government guidelines, which have ‘changed the definition of access’.”

“Mr McGrath (sic) also warned of a potential exodus from dentistry after a survey by the British Dental Association found that 47 per cent of practitioners in England were now likely to change careers or retire early,” the newspaper said.

“That just gives you a perspective of the morale within the profession, morale is terrible” he said.

“You’re wearing PPE for more than 45 minutes, and I’ve got a couple of colleagues who almost went into respiratory depression. It’s horrible.

“Please understand that we’re doing our best. I work through my lunch, I start early and work late most days to try and reduce this demand that we have.”

The newspaper told of one Labour councillor, who “Expressed disbelief that people living in ‘the second city of England’ were unable to access NHS dentistry.”

Reporter Niall Griffiths said Councillor Zahid Hussein told the meeting  “that his five-year-old daughter has been waiting for NHS treatment for two years ‘but at the drop of the hat we can see a private dentist if you have the money.’

“I think it’s a sad indictment of any society when we’re in a situation where you have to go miles and miles to get an NHS dentist.”

“The reality is there’s lots of money involved in this, and dentists are making a lot of money.”

Between April 2020 and April 2021 there was a backlog of 70,000 patients seeking dental care in Manchester, the newspaper reported.

LDC executive officer Dr Jim Rochford, told the committee that capacity within dental practices had been ‘severely curtailed’ by Covid and the government’s guidance.

“The meeting also heard that practice staff have also struggled with increasing demand since the government published its roadmap out of restrictions earlier this year.”

Dr Rochford reportedly told the committee “The January to March activity that we carried out was during a time of huge infection levels, not one of our team took much holidays.”

“In April there was a sigh of relief that we’d got to April, but then the phones started, as did the abuse that our reception teams get when they try their best to identify patients in pain and those patients rightly looking for routine treatment.

“We had a situation where our patients would arrive and would phone to say they’ve arrived and ask if they can gain entry.”

“It got to the point where the phones were hopping so hard that it was simply impossible to continue to do that.”

The MEN reported that the committee was told that the “Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership was investing £2 million to support practices across the region to provide the support for the priority groups as set by the government.”

Now Healthwatch Shropshire has said that NHS England must continue its work with dentists to quickly improve patient access to NHS dental care in the county, the Shropshire Star has reported.

“Healthwatch Shropshire has published a report into the experience of people trying to get routine NHS dentist appointments in Shropshire saying a request for the public’s own experiences showed 93 per cent of people reported poor experiences of accessing services.”

An internet search this week found just two dentists, one in Bridgnorth, the other in Telford, saying that they were taking on new NHS patients, wrote Sue Austin.

The Shropshire Star said the access problems seemed to be worse in Market Drayton and the border town of Oswestry.

In neighbouring Worcestershire, NHS Digital data revealed that 121,000 dental treatments were given to NHS patients in the county between June 2020 and March this year. This represented a 70 per cent drop from 408,000 in the same period the previous year.

The Ely Standard presented a similar picture in Cambridgeshire.

Within the NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, the news site reported that the number of dentists offering NHS treatment dropped by 40, to 405 over the same period. 

“NHS Digital data reveals 138,000 dental treatments were given to NHS patients in Cambridgeshire between June 2020 and March this year – a 68% drop from 431,000 in the same period the previous year,” John Elworthy reported.

Dr Jim Rochford
Public fustration with High Street Dentists
I sat with Don McGrath before the Health Scrutiny Committee in Manchester Last week. Public perception of dentistry is the worst I've seen and does feel like DOH/ NHSE and Government have thrown us under the bus.

The link is the video, starts at 1 hour 38 minutes.

Compared to the medics we got a relatively hostile reception with emphasis on greedy doggy dentists milking the system and taking advantage of patients with no registered practice. We are miles behind in the PR campaign and there is little understanding of contracting, rather views created by frustrated public. Even with many GPs avoiding face to face no concept that dentists are working in COVID central!


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