COVID-19: missed dental appointments hits 14 million in England

The number of missed dental appointments in England has hit 14 millionThe number of missed dental appointments in England has reached 14 million as a result of COVID-19. 

This is according to official activity data seen by the British Dental Association (BDA).

As a result, it is calling on the government to support costs for new equipment to help practices handle the building backlog of patients.

Data reveals that treatments carried out in NHS dental services are at a quarter of their pre-pandemic levels. More than 14.5 million fewer treatments have been carried out when compared to the same period in 2019.

Uphill struggle

For example, in March, courses of treatment (COT) levels were at 112.54% of the 2019 monthly average.

But this had dropped to 12.63% in April and just 2.54% in May. By August, this increased to 24.63%.

‘Dentist are facing an uphill struggle to restore services and get on top of an ever-growing backlog,’ says BDA chair Eddie Crouch.

‘New rules could offer some hope, but only if the government is willing to show leadership. If practices are going to get more patients back through their doors, it will hinge on support to invest in new kit.

‘Until we see commitments, dentists will fight a losing battle, as early signs of decay are missed, and oral cancers go undetected.’

Significant moment

This comes as the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) release new recommendations regarding fallow time. 

Its guidance suggests it could be cut to as little as 10 minutes. But only where practices can demonstrate an adequate number of air changes are taking place.

Ian Mills, dean of FGDP(UK), labelled it ‘a very significant moment in the recovery of dental practices’.

A webinar will take place today looking into the mitigation of AGPs, with a panel including ex-BDA chair, Mick Armstrong and deputy CDO Jason Wong.

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