Government eases pressure on face mask shortage

Dentist putting on face maskThe UK government will unlock stocks of face masks to ease the pressure on supply problems facing UK dentistry.

It claims the Department of Health and Social Care has significant central reserves built up in preparation for Brexit.

Government kept these stockpiles as part of the supply for hospitals, but out of reach for primary care providers.

‘The clock was ticking on this face mask shortage,’ British Dental Association chair, Mick Armstrong, said.

‘Dentists and patients will applaud decisive action from the industry and government.

‘We were clear any solution hinged on getting supplies into the hands of high street practices.

‘That process kicks off today, and not a moment too soon.

‘Our members are facing difficult choices, and we will continue doing everything in our power to prevent disruption to patient care.’


The face mask shortage emerged after the Coronavirus outbreak increased demand from the general public.

It is affecting countries across the world with dentists in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and parts of the US reporting major disruptions.

Last week the BDA warned of imminent disruption to dental services due to supplies running low.

‘In recent weeks panic buying, clumsy rationing and naked profiteering have impacted dentists,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong, said at the time.

‘Sadly a “one size fits all” approach from suppliers is leaving many larger practices with few options.

‘Our abiding interest is the safety of our patients, who face imminent disruption to their care.

‘Unless we see a rapid increase in supply, dentists without face masks will have little choice but to down drills.’

Face mask shortage

China is the world’s leading supplier of face masks, with several suppliers tripling their prices since the coronavirus outbreak.

It is prioritising the unprecedented domestic demand during the crisis.

‘The world is facing severe disruption in the market for personal protective equipment (PPE),’ Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, said last week.

‘Demand is up to 100 times higher than normal, and prices are up to 20 times higher.

‘Widespread inappropriate use of PPE outside patient care exacerbates this situation.

‘Stock of PPE is limited and we have to make sure we get it to the people who need it most, in the places that need it most.’

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