Northern Ireland news

Emergency dentists to remain open until August

Urgent dental care centres are to remain open

EMERGENCY dentists are to remain open until the end of August, the Department of Health has confirmed.

Urgent Dental Centres (UDCs) were due to shut down completely from Monday.

This was to coincide with the next phase for reopening, with non-urgent treatments including fillings, crowns, veeneers and root canal - know as aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs) - being offered.

However, dentists warned that a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) meant not all practices could reopen.

It emerged last week that supplies of masks were delayed.

The consignment of `level one' PPE was to include gloves and aprons, which are required for non-AGPs.

But it was warned that up to 90 per cent of practices may not be able to provide AGPs, until at least `level two' PPE was secured. This includes gowns and eye protection.

The department said the UDCs would continue to have staff rostered until the end of August while the gradual resumption of general dental services continued.

There are five centres located across each of the five trust areas. They have provided most emergency dental care for patients throughout the pandemic.

An organisation representing 900 dentists this week accused the Department of Health of providing "atrocious communication" to the profession.

In an open letter to the Stormont health committee, a local branch of the British Association of Private Dentistry said morale has "never been so low".

The department wrote to practices on July 2 about providing "much needed support in re-building services through the provision of PPE".

The expectation at that time was that it would take 10 to 14 days for deliveries to begin.

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