Urgent dental care centres (UDCs) in Northern Ireland will start to scale down over the next six weeks, it has been confirmed.
Over the last six weeks, the number of non-oral surgery cases carried out at UDC centres has dropped by 43%.
The Health and Social Care Board anticipates increased AGP provision in dental practices throughout August and September, leading to reduced demand in UDCs.
As a result, it announced that UDCs will only provide weekend care from 1 October onwards.
In a letter to the profession, head of dental services Michael Donaldson
Phase one – 1st September to 30th September 2020
- NHSCT and BHSCT – continue with current UDC centres seven days per week
- WHSCT and SEHSCT – continue with current UDC centres a weekend-only service
- SHSCT – not yet confirmed
Operating times for weekdays will remain from 9am to 5pm.
Phase two – 1st October to March 31st 2021
UDC centres will provide a weekend-only service. They will operate on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays until 31st March 2021.
For weekend appointments during phase one and phase two, the UDCs will operate from 11am to 5pm.
Additionally, the Dalriada Urgent Care (DUC) triage hub will continue to operate for the current weekday hours throughout September.
However, for weekends during September and the months beyond, the lines will open from 9.30am to 3.30pm.
GDS dental practices will triage and treat urgent dental appointments during the week for their registered patients. Patients should be able to contact the practice between the hours of 9am and 5pm.
They should also have weekend arrangements in place for registered patients requiring urgent care.
The board said an expansion of UDC capacity may be required if there is a second wave of COVID-19.