The majority (more than 60%) of dental practices predict they will be able to treat less than one quarter of the patients they saw prior to the pandemic.
This is according to a new survey carried out by the British Dental Association (BDA).
More than one third (36%) say there will be no return to ‘business as usual’ as the profession prepares to return.
Last week, it was announced that practices in England can begin to offer face-to-face care from Monday 8 June.
Additionally, only 15% are in a position to carry out a full range of treatment. This includes the capacity to offer AGPs.
As a result, the BDA is calling on the government for support – including PPE supplies and clarification on key worker status for dental teams.
Fewer patients, higher costs
BDA chair Mick Armstrong said: ‘Anyone expecting dentistry to magically return on Monday will find only a skeleton service.
‘Those practices reopening now face fewer patients and higher costs and will struggle to meet demand.
‘Dentists returning to work still lack the support offered to our neighbours on the high street, and even clarity on key worker status when it comes to childcare.
‘Ministers must change tack if dentistry is going to survive the new normal.’
Additionally, the survey shows only one third of practices have enough PPE to provide face-to-face care. And just 25% report they have been fit-tested to use them.
Other key obstacles having an impact on practices’ ability to offer face-to-face care include:
- Cash flow problems (78%)
- Preparing practices for social distancing (63%)
- Access to childcare (40%)
The BDA says dental professional’s have seen their children turned away from schools following confusion their key worker status.
This comes as England’s CDO Sara Hurley releases the new standard operating procedure as practices prepare to open their doors to patients.
The ‘transition to recovery’ document aims for a phased approach towards the resumption of full dental care.
To identify potential COVID-19 cases, all dental practices are told to provide remote consultations with triage and advice ahead of resuming face-to-face care.
However, providers may carry out both AGP and non-AGP care. This is dependent on appropriate PPE and should be in line with infection prevention and control guidance.
Find out more about Dentistry’s Back to Practice campaign.