Nation’s oral health could go “back in time” as patient backlog builds - 12 June 2020
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Nation’s oral health could go “back in time” as patient backlog builds
RCSEd survey of dentists shows 87% fear long-term damage
A leading dental professor has expressed concern over the long-term oral health of the nation, as a survey shows that 87% of dentists fear a patient backlog that could send the UK “back in time” when it comes to dental health.
Professor Phil Taylor, Dean-Elect of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd)’s Faculty of Dental Surgery, says a lack of clarity on and supply of PPE has led to many dentists being either unable to re-open this week, or unable to carry out vital, ‘tooth saving’ aerosol generating procedures (AGPs).
RCSEd carried out a survey of 246 dentists across the UK, examining their ability to re-open and safely treat patients.
Professor Taylor said:
“Our survey showed that half of dentists believe they have patients who have suffered permanent harm as a result of practices being closed, and 87% feel there is a backlog that will cause further long-term deterioration. We could be faced with a scenario where oral health in the UK goes back in time and is set back by decades.
“Dentists are concerned about the lack of PPE available and there is confusion around what equipment is required, where to get it and how to use it appropriately. Our research showed that 37% of dentists are not confident they can manage AGPs – which are tooth saving procedures where PPE is most vital – in their practices. We also found that 64% of a dentist’s normal work requires AGPs, so not being equipped to perform these poses a serious risk to patient wellbeing. The longer we cannot perform these procedures, the more long-term damage will be done.”
The survey also revealed that more than half of dentists (52%) feel the emergency care in place since lockdown began has not been adequate, leaving them with a three month backlog which is being dealt with at a severely reduced rate due to the time required between patients for necessary cleaning.
Cost of PPE also remains an issue, with Professor Taylor warning that patient safety could be at risk if the cost of protective equipment means cuts in other budget areas for dentists.
“Under normal conditions, dentists might see around 50 patients per day, equating to £1million of PPE each day according to NHS England’s estimates for the London area alone. Even scaling that back to just 10 patients per day, allowing for the necessary cleaning in between AGPs, that equates to £65million in a year for dental PPE in London – a very real figure as we expect the current required level of enhanced equipment to continue for many months. When you consider the rest of the country, the cost will be substantial.
“Patient safety is more crucial now than ever, so we are keen to know where this budget is coming from. If it comes from the existing dental budget, where are cuts going to be made? Or can the Government provide assurances that there will be additional budget, safeguarding existing funding and ensuring there is no comprise in patient safety?”
This survey was completed by 246 members of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh between 27 May 2020 and 8 June 2020.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and its Faculty of Dental Surgery:
- Established in 1982, it is the largest of the College's faculties with almost 7,000 Fellows and Members worldwide and its own Council.
- The Dental Faculty's portfolio includes a wide range of exams and courses held in 17 countries around the world.
- Internationally, the Faculty works with the National University of Singapore, the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, the College of Dental Surgeons of Hong Kong, and the American Board of Oral Medicine.
- RCSEd was first incorporated as the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505, and is based in Edinburgh and Birmingham.
- It is one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world with a worldwide membership of 29,600. The majority of our members practice across the UK, with 15,000 professionals based in England and Wales.
- The College also has a significant global presence with members in over 100 countries worldwide.
- The College promotes the highest standards of surgical and dental practice through education, training and examinations, its liaison with external medical bodies and representation of the modern surgical and dental workforce.
- Find RCSEd here rcsed.ac.uk, on Twitter www.twitter.com/RCSEd, on Facebook www.facebook.com/rcsed and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/RCSEd/
About The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
RCSEd was first incorporated as the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505, and is based in Edinburgh and Birmingham. It is one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world with a worldwide membership of over 29,000. The majority of our members practice across the UK, with 11,000 professionals based in England and Wales. The College also has a significant global presence with 11,000 members in over 100 countries worldwide.
The College promotes the highest standards of surgical and dental practice through education, training and examinations, its liaison with external medical bodies and representation of the modern surgical and dental workforce. It is also home to the UK’s only Faculty of Surgical Trainers, open to all those with an interest in surgical training regardless of College affiliation.
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