The British Dental Association (BDA) is calling on an improved strategic approach, which it argues is needed ‘more than ever’.
In a letter to the Northern Ireland Assembly, it draws attention to the plethora of problems dentists face amidst COVID-19.
For example, it cites PPE and fallow time as key obstacles.
‘DoH has provided some additional funding to practices to help mitigate the costs of PPE. Practices have to source and purchase themselves and this is at a fixed rate,’ the letter reads.
‘Therefore, practices are constrained financially in the number of AGPs they can carry out.’
It also states it is ‘bitterly disappointed’ with the lack of financial support provided for private practices.
‘Even if all practices had the infrastructure in place to attain the lowest fallow-times possible under the guidance, other significant limiting factors to patient throughout will remain so long as the risk profile of COVID-19 remains high,’ it suggests.
Move to prevention
The letter adds: ‘At the heart of these deliberations must be patient care. We have considerable ground to make up in Northern Ireland. For example, on addressing considerable oral health inequalities and poor oral health outcomes.
‘This is exemplified by the paediatric GA extraction rate being over three times higher here than in England. Rather than a GDS system based on treatment and ‘drill and fill’, can we move to a system that is more prevention based?
‘Can it reward success for caring for the population’s oral health needs, while simultaneously remunerating GDPs adequately for the services they provide?’