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Support needed for dentist re-openings, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has warned chaos over re-openings of dentists in England shows support is needed to enable them to operate fully in Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week dentists in England would reopen from Monday but a recent survey showed only just over a third are planning to do so, citing concerns over a lack of PPE and inappropriate safety measures.

Emergency dental clinics here remained open during the pandemic for urgent treatment but all practices will begin offering care for patients with an urgent care need.

“Dentists have been operating via phone consultation or having been re-allocated to emergency clinics throughout the pandemic, but clearly they have not been able to carry out dental work. The objective in Northern Ireland initially is to enable dentists to receive patients again only for urgent work from Monday,” said Ms Bradshaw.

“However, already this is causing some difficulty because dental surgeries may lack adequate PPE and protective screening. We have seen attempts at a full re-opening in England have run into significant difficulty for the same reason.

“I have already submitted questions to the Department of Health on the issue of PPE, but as with community pharmacies, it is clear some support will be needed for dental surgeries to enable necessary safety modifications to be carried out. I trust the Department will make an announcement clarifying this urgently, to enable a full and safe re-opening of dental surgeries when in due course.”