Dentists in Wales are ‘firefighting’ to deal with giant backlogs, experts warn

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The chairman of the Welsh general practitioners committee has warned that dentists are ‘firefighting’ to cope with giant backlogs as a result of prolonged lockdown closures.

Tom Bysouth described the backlog as “huge” and admitted that it could be months before dental teams are able to catch up following Covid-19 closures and ongoing restrictions. Mr Bysouth also raised concerns about the viability of keeping some of Wales’ five hundred dental practices afloat, with many facing financial hardship. Most practices are currently running a reduced service as a result of infection control and social distancing measures, and running costs have increased due to a spike in the demand for PPE. 

The British Dental Association has also voiced concerns about the future of dentistry in the UK. Members have called for urgent action to support struggling practices, warning that patients will be left with “nowhere to go” if clinics close. 

Talking about the current situation, Mr Bysouth suggested that it would take several months to try and catch up. Even if practices were running normally now, it could be six months before dentists clear backlogs, and in reality, it will be longer due to restrictions in place to limit risks and protect staff and patients. 

Practices were closed between the end of March and June and most clinics are still prioritising urgent cases, with a restricted range of services on offer. If the situation stays the same, Mr Bysouth claims that teams won’t catch up until 2021. At the moment, with a lack of routine services available, there is also a real worry that dental issues will become more commonplace in the future. 

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