CDO Sara Hurley – ‘prioritise patients with suspected mouth cancer’

 England's CDO Sara Hurley urges practices to prioritise patients with suspected mouth cancer for a face-to-face consultationThe majority of dental treatments now carried out are tooth saving, it has been confirmed.

In her latest update to the profession, England’s chief dental officer, Sara Hurley said evidence shows access is ‘steadily increasing’.

Additionally, there has been a move towards more tooth saving treatments.

Following the shift to NHS incident Level 4, she emphasises that providing urgent care remains the clinical priority.

‘As we continue the transition to recovery of services and where practice capacity allows, we would increasingly expect practices to be actively recalling patients to resume interrupted care pathways,’ she writes.

She suggests that practices should also ‘seek to offer appointments to patients who normally attend the practice for care in terms of their risk’.

Mouth cancer concerns

She adds: ‘I recognise that there is a delicate balance in meeting patients’ needs against the restrictions of COVID. However, the statistics demonstrate the great efforts of the majority of practices in providing access and addressing a wide range of patients’ dental care concerns.’

Additionally, she urges practices to prioritise patients with suspected mouth cancer for a face-to-face consultation.

This comes as experts estimate that thousands of mouth cancers have gone undiagnosed as a result of COVID-19.

Similarly, new figures reveal mouth cancer rates have rocketed by 58% in just 10 years as experts urge for better government support.

Antibiotic resistance

Finally, Dr Hurley encourages teams to adhere to fresh guidance from Public Health England (PHE) on the use of antibiotics.

Statistics show dentists administered a total of 799,282 prescriptions for antibiotics from April to June 2020. This compares with 645,332 during the same period in 2019.

Advice suggests that dental teams now need to work towards re-establishing the profession’s pre-COVID approach towards antibiotics.

For example, they should only be prescribed for patients with ‘severe and spreading bacterial infections’.

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