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GPs face continued workload as few dental surgeries ready to open from Monday

GPs look faced with the prospect of continuing to field dental enquiries despite dentist surgeries reopening from Monday.

According to a survey by the British Dental Association (BDA), only just over one third (36%) of dental practices will be ready to reopen in England from the start date.

GPs had welcomed the Government’s announcement, made last week (28 May), that routine dentistry could resume, after dealing with dental enquiries since services closed in March.

But the BDA’s survey of over 2,000 dental practices in England showed that:

  • A majority (60%) will be able to treat less than a quarter of usual patient numbers when they reopen;
  • Only 15% will be in a position to offer a full range of treatments.

Further, practices were citing issues such as cash-flow problems and concerns over social distancing and childcare availability, as hampering their ability to resume full services.

However, despite this, 60% of practices said they expect to open to some degree by the end of the month.

BDA chair Mick Armstrong warned: ‘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.’

Dr Simon Hodes, a GP in Watford, told Pulse that GPs have felt ‘obliged’ to treat dental patients – including prescribing antibiotics – during the lockdown, as patients have struggled to access emergency dental services that were to remain in place.

‘This has further added to GP workload at an already very pressured time’, he said.