Bognor Regis practice owner calls for clearer guidelines for dentists

A Bognor Regis practice owner is calling for clearer guidelines for dentists amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 1:47 pm
Davinder Raju wearing a protective mask

Davinder Raju, the lead clinical dentist at Dove Holistic Dental Centre, in Sussex Street, Bognor Regis, said there had been conflicting advice for dentists since social distancing measures were introduced.

NHS England has said that all routine, non-urgent dental care including orthodontics should be stopped and deferred.

But when it comes to patients needing emergency care, Mr Raju said dentists had been advised to triage patients, do a risk assessment and then ‘do what they feel was best’.

He said many practices had not been given personal protection equipment.

Fortunately, Mr Raju has a stock of FSP3 high filtration masks, but he said his indemnity organisation had advised him that he should not carry out face to face appointments because he had not been formally trained in how to use the mask.

“I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

According to Government advice, Local Urgent Dental Care systems should be set up in each area where patients needing urgent care could be referred to.

But Mr Raju said he did not know of any of these in West Sussex at all, adding: “I’ve had no notification of any being set up. That’s a little bit frustrating.”

Mr Raju, who has owned his private practice for 14 years, said there should be clearer guidelines issued by the chief dental officer for England.

He said he was having to have difficult conversations with patients, because he was not able to see them in person.

Mr Raju has been working from home and advising patients remotely, but he said diagnosing people verbally was ‘very difficult’. He is also looking into setting up video calls.

The British Dental Association said that routine care has ceased at all dental practices this week, with most now triaging calls from patients over the telephone.

But it said that in the absence of ‘a functioning and properly equipped emergency system’, many are reporting they have nowhere to directing these patients.

British Dental Association Chair Mick Armstrong said: “The reality is dentists are busy fielding calls from patients in pain, but with nowhere to send them.

“Weeks have been lost that should have been spent setting up a properly equipped emergency dental service.”

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