Strict hygiene rules will hit hard, dentists fear

Scottish dentists are warning that patients’ costs will rise and there will be hundreds fewer dentists because of stringent hygiene rules.

They say regulations requiring them to have separate facilities for cleaning equipment by the end of 2009 will mean surgeries will have to shut to be turned into sterilisation rooms.

Dentists in buildings which cannot be altered may have to close because of the costs of moving, they warn.

Some dentists want more money to help them alter their surgeries.

Others say the regulations – brought in to counter the risk of CJD being caught from dental instruments – should be shelved.

They claim there is little evidence the illness can be transmitted through equipment.

The Scottish Government is offering help to alter surgeries, and said regulations had been drawn up on clinical advice.

The hygiene regulations were drawn up after the Glennie Report, which was published in 2001.

It called for new procedures for cleaning equipment to minimise the chance of transmitting the prions that carry CJD, the human variant of mad cow disease.

In an open letter to MSP John Farquhar published in Dentistry Scotland magazine this month, West of Scotland dentist Jan Overmeer who has three surgeries, said: ‘To comply with the Glennie report, I would have to establish a dedicated decontamination room separate from my surgery room with at least three sinks and more equipment.

‘In Lochcarron, I would not be able to create a separate room and so would be forced to close the surgery, although Shona Robinson insists there will be no forced closures…’

He concludes: ‘Why does the Scottish Government want to bring in the most stringent decontamination regulations in the world for dental surgeries when there are so many deaths in hospital due to inadequate decontamination?’

Dentists say it will typically cost between £25,000 and £40,000 to refit surgeries under the new rules but they are only being offered about £5,000 on average to help with the changes.

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