SAFETY must take clear priority over dental activity levels during the latest national coronavirus lockdown, says UK dental organisations in a joint statement.
The Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP), College of General Dentistry (CGDent) and the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England issued the statement in response to the "imposition" of UDA-based (Units of Dental Activity) targets in England to address the growing unmet demand in dental care.
The dental organisations have also highlighted the continued applicability of their guidance, and reiterated the need to consider the prevalence of Covid-19, and local rates of infection, when carrying out risk assessments.
Ian Mills, Dean of the FGDP, said: "Many patients have been unable to access dental care for over a year, with their dental problems getting steadily worse, and oral health inequalities exacerbated by coronavirus restrictions. The dental profession is acutely aware of the present backlog of unmet dental need, which requires treatment as soon as possible. However, the recent imposition of UDA-based targets in England to remedy this, just as the pandemic becomes worse than it has ever been, is at odds with the Government's message to 'stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives'.”
"The dental profession has worked assiduously to create a safe environment for dental treatment to be delivered, but there are justifiable concerns that significant increases in patient throughput, in order to meet UDA targets, could potentially compromise staff and patient safety. The UDA was an ineffective measure of activity before the Covid pandemic, and we consider it even less appropriate now. Circumstances will vary by practice and by patient, but the priority should be on safety, the treatment of those with acute needs, and essential maintenance of oral health."