22 Apr

Dentists are worried about a shortage of PPE

Dentists in England are worried about a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to the British Dental Association.

A survey carried out by the BDA revealed that 54% of those polled had concerns about a lack of PPE. Dentists across England are worried that running out of PPE will prevent them from carrying out emergency dental treatment at urgent care hubs, which have been set up to provide treatment while practices are closed.

The survey, which involved 1,000 dentists in England, revealed that some urgent dental centres are not able to provide emergency treatment at the moment as a result of a lack of PPE. A third of sites in England are not active, compared to just 2% of hubs in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. 

Sara Hurley, chief dental officer for England, said that there are now 219 operational emergency dental hubs and all have the required stores of PPE. Work is underway to ensure that stocks are replenished and staff have access to the equipment they need.  

High street and local clinics were advised to close weeks ago as part of lockdown measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. While practices are closed, patients are being advised to contact their normal dentist with a view to going to a local hub if they require urgent treatment. A telephone consultation will be carried out, and if an appointment is needed, the patient will be directed to the relevant UDC hub. Advice is also available from NHS 111 for patients who are not registered with a dentist and those who need help outside of working hours. 

Despite reassurances from the chief dental officer, chair of the BDA, Mick Armstrong, said that progress has been slow and that patients are suffering as a result of being unable to see a dentist for emergency treatment. Delays are also hampering efforts for dentists to provide treatment. Many are willing to be redeployed to urgent care centres, but they’re finding that they don’t have the equipment they need once they get there.