Health May 21, 2020
Dentistry sector at risk of collapse without government support

By News - Primary Care Journal

The Association of Dental Groups (ADG) have warned that, without government support, the dentistry sector could collapse in the wake of Covid-19.

Last month the ADG, whose members consist of corporate providers of NHS and private dentistry across England and Wales, called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer for government support for private dental practices during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Currently, those who perform NHS dentistry will be paid most of the cost of their contracts by the NHS. Those who perform a mix of NHS dentistry and private practice receive some NHS support and can furlough their workers. However, the government support excludes self-employed dentists in private practices who earn just over the £50,000 cap meaning hundreds of dental professionals from around 5,500 private practices across the country have no income.

Further, dental practices have also been excluded from the business rates retail discount and grants leaving them struggling to meet the fixed costs and leases they must continue to pay.

Given the volume of dental care in the country provided by private practitioners, with private dentistry accounting for half of patient spend the lack of government support is of major concern. If this part of the profession does not receive some government aid private dental providers could effectively completely collapse over the next six months, leaving severe dental access challenges.

Chair of the ADG, Neil Carmichael, said: The Government must urgently reconsider the support given to dentists and provide certainty around the eligibility for the SIESS. These are professionals we are not only seeking to redeploy to help in the wider NHS effort against Covid-19, but we will need to call on to tackle the backlog of oral healthcare need once the crisis is over.

“Given this was a sector already facing workforce shortages and access issues, something must be done to support self-employed dentists and private practices to weather the storm and continue to provide dentistry once non-urgent dentistry is possible again."

Mr Carmichael went on to warn that a continued lack of support will have a “potentially disastrous” impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of clinicians and staff members working in private practices.

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