Patients across England are being forced to take drastic measures as access to NHS dentistry is increasingly constrained as a result of COVID-19.
“Critical shortages” in personal protective equipment (PPE) mean that dentists are unable to treat patients with even the most urgent problems, the British Dental Association (BDA) said.
More than half (54%) of dentists in England say that PPE shortages are thwarting their efforts to treat patients at urgent dental care (UDC).
The BDA’s survey of one thousand dentists suggests that a lack of PPE has meant some UDC hubs can not currently treat patients.
Sara Hurley, chief dental officer for England, said there are now 219 open hubs “to provide care for those who need it” and that “every hub has the relevant PPE and work is ongoing to ensure that supply is maintained.”
But the BDA said a third of the sites in England remain inactive, compared with just 2% across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: “Many dentists have been redeployed, only to find their hands tied by a critical shortage of kit, and delays in training and fit-testing.
“The depth of these problems will fatally undermine any progress on getting this network up and running.”