Covid-19 Pandemic puts the bite onto dentists
An equal amount of coverage and adulation has been given to the tireless NHS workers and GP’s who’ve stepped up to face a once-in-a generation challenge with the same selfless professionalism and dedication to duty they’re renowned for.
But there’s one branch of the health services that experienced a very different year and that’s dentists.
From a public health point of view since March there have been collectively 19 million fewer dental treatments in England alone compared to 2019.
Research from the British Dental Association (BDA) warn that not only are practices operating at a fraction of their capacity during the pandemic, limited to emergency treatment in many cases, but that hundreds of practices could be forced to close within the next year without extra financial support.
During September and October 2020, dental practices were operating at a third of last year’s level.
The BDA conducted interviews with 1,337 dental practitioners and more than half said they would not be financially viable a year from now unless they were given extra support.
The oral health implications are also stark with a combination of dentists closing and less patients being seen.
Sam Shah, group clinical director for East Village Dental, a group of six practices in the south of England said: “At least two of my surgeries, both in deprived communities with high levels of need, are at risk of closing within the next 12 months if the government doesn’t intervene.
“These communities have a lack of access to any other NHS dental services. We’ve seen an increase in the number of people using painkillers to manage dental pain – and that’s led to an increase in the number of people presenting at A&E after inadvertently overdosing on paracetamol or ibuprofen.”
Dentist insolvency matters
Sadly because of the ongoing uncertainty around restrictions on dental reopening for non-emergency services, several are facing severe financial difficulties and should be considering options to help alleviate these.
Moving quickly to get professional advice and then choosing to pursue a CVA or administration could be the best solution for a dental practice that is hoping to reopen but has no clear pathway to welcoming customers back into the surgery.
There was initially some confusion around whether insolvency could affect a dentist’s professional registration or even their future ability to hold NHS treatment contracts.
Fortunately the answer is no, it won’t.
Most dentists work with a mix of private and NHS patients so there’s no reason why dentists working through formal insolvency proceedings can’t carry on private dentistry work.
If they enter a CVA, administration or CIGA restructuring there’s no requirement for dentists to inform customers. They do have to notify the NHS if they hold treatment contracts and enter any formal insolvency proceedings but there’s no obligation on the NHS to terminate contracts in these circumstances.
It’s a testament to the care and professionalism the profession is noted for that they consider their future standing so carefully and we’re happy to set any of their worries aside.
If you’re a dentist then the thing you’d probably like more than anything else this year is some certainty about your future.
When will you be able to see non-emergency patients again? What restrictions will remain if you can? Will it be governed by which area of the country I like in when tiered lockdowns return again?
Good advice can bring certainty of purpose and action too.
Get in touch with us today and we’ll arrange a free initial consultation which can be held virtually at a time convenient to you.
We’ll discuss the circumstances of you and your practice and be able to summarise what your immediate options are and what action you can take now while waiting for bigger decisions to be made.
This could be the first step toward a brighter future so when you can begin practice again, you could already have made some changes to protect your business and livelihood in the meantime.