NHS Shetland’s new dental director sympathises with patients, as COVID-19 restrictions remain

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NHS Shetland’s new dental director has expressed frustration at the current Coronavirus restrictions in place in Scotland, sympathising with patients who can’t yet access routine services.

Dr Anthony Visocchi, a dentist from Banchory, recently replaced Brian Chittick as the dental director at NHS Shetland. At a time when the dental service is very different to normal, Dr Visocchi is eager to get stuck in and start working towards providing patients with the best possible standards of care.

Dr Visocchi said that dentists are as frustrated as patients that routine services cannot resume yet, and the profession is conscious of mounting backlogs. For months, most practices were closed, with patients who needed urgent treatment encouraged to visit emergency dental hubs. As lockdown measures have eased, practices have reopened, and more services, including limited AGPs (aerosol-generating procedures), will start again from Monday 17th August. 

At the moment, Dr Visocchi explained, there is a lack of clarity for patients, and many don’t really understand which kinds of services are available. As lockdown restrictions ease, practices have been given the go ahead to resume more routine services, but it could be a long time before patients are able to call up their local surgery and make an appointment for a check-up. As backlogs have amassed during the lockdown, many practices will be working through urgent lists and contacting patients who have had treatments cancelled or postponed before they book routine checks and hygiene appointments. 

One of the main concerns for dentists is that patients may be suffering in silence. If patients do have any problems with their dental health, or they are worried about abnormal oral symptoms, Dr Visocchi recommends contacting their dentist as usual. Practices are offering advice over the telephone and running virtual consultations.

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