(Title Image: Senedd Cymru)
The Chief Dental Officer, Dr Collete Bridgman, wrote to dental practices on May 22nd (pdf) saying that dentistry – which has been partially postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic – would gradually return in three phases.
Emergency dental treatment is currently being provided at designated Urgent Dental Centres (UDCs) and according to the letter just under 7,000 people have received an urgent assessment as of 22nd May 2020, with more than 22,600 prescriptions issued.
Under the phased reopening plans, NHS dental practices can begin to see patients face-to-face from 1st July 2020, while those with urgent dental needs or requiring aerosol-generating procedures (like drilling) would continue to be referred to UDCs.
A backlog of postponed treatments would begin to be addressed from October 2020, but dentists aren’t set to return to unrestricted routine treatment until January-March 2021.
A new NHS dental contract which will emphasise ongoing care and preventative treatment is still set to be rolled-out across Wales; 40% of NHS dental practices are currently trialling the new contract.
The British Dental Association have called for quicker action, while dentist Dr Lowri Leeke told BBC Wales: “We’re used to wearing our visors, masks, gloves and scrubs and keeping everything sterile – I don’t see why we can’t start working as normal sooner than January.”