Half of Scottish dentists fear being unable to reopen after lockdown

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More than half of dental practice owners in Scotland are worried that they might not be able to reopen after the lockdown if they don’t receive additional funding, a survey has revealed.

According to new research conducted by the Scottish Dental Practice Owners (SDPO) Facebook group, 57% of dentists are considering keeping their doors closed, even when lockdown measures are lifted. Over 50% also admitted that they wouldn’t be financially sustainable if the current funding model was not modified. Over 320 practice owners answered questions about the future of dentistry and how the Scottish Government had handled the Covid-19 crisis. 

A spokesperson for SDPO said that other sectors, including parts of the healthcare industry, had been supported by the government, but that dentistry had been overlooked. Dental practices were told to shut without prior warning, funding has been cut by up to 20% and plans to reopen are very restrictive. When practices in Scotland are given the green light to open again, they will only be allowed to offer face-to-face triage services with a maximum of 10 patients per day allowed to attend surgeries. 

Guidelines set out by the Scottish Government outline a phased reopening, which dentists claim will mean that patients will face the same struggles they have experienced during the lockdown for several weeks to come. Routine services will not be up and running for some time, and it will be “almost impossible” to clear the backlog already accrued, let alone to tackle additional demands placed on the system while practices remain closed to most patients in the weeks ahead.

The poll also indicated that most dentists are worried about their patients, with 85% of participants suggesting that NHS Scotland was ‘compromising patient care.’

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