NHS Dentistry In Northern Ireland Branded ‘Unsustainable’

NHS Dentistry In Northern Ireland Branded ‘Unsustainable’

Lest for a moment you thought that the crisis affecting NHS dentistry was largely confined to England and Wales, a report on UTL Live (ITN News) on Friday 24th June made clear in stark terms that NHS Dentistry in the province is ‘not a sustainable model’.

Ciara Gallagher, the BDA’s Chair of the Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee said that patient examinations were 61% down on pre-Covid levels and there had been a marked upswing in the amount of treatment post-pandemic returning patients required.

“A lot can happen in someone’s mouth in two years,” said Ciara. “What we’re finding is that people who would have come in and had a check-up and a clean are now coming in with treatment needs and thus they need to come back maybe two or three times where they didn’t have to before.” 

As every dentist knows, every hour spent treating one patient’s problems equates to five or six check-ups.

The BDA warned in March that 50% of dentists were turning towards more private work because they were losing money on NHS work.  An out-of-date contract coupled with underfunding threatens the very sustainability of the service Dr Gallagher said, and she was scathing about the remuneration which although not UDA based is wanting.

“If a patient comes to us and needs an extraction because a tooth is unsavable…the fee that the Department of Health pays us for this is less than people pay for gel nails, it’s less than what you would pay for a haircut and blow-dry and it’s about five times less than taking your pet to the vet.

So you can understand that millions on one side is not translating to funding proper care for patients sitting in your dental surgery.”


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