According to the BDA, dentists could lessen the pressure on A&E departments by dealing with dental related emergencies.
The British Dental Association believes that more in-hour urgent care slots will help to relieve pressures on A&E. These issues in Accident and Emergency have been much reported on in the past. With members of the public heading to A&E with problems that may not be emergencies, or even to avoid making and waiting for appointments, it’s not hard to see why the BDA have come to this potential solution.
The BDA estimates that around 135,000 dental patients attend A&E per year at an annual cost of nearly £18 million. Over 95,000 cases of toothache come in at £12.5 million. Also, a further 600,000 patients a year seek treatment from GPs. Neither the A&E departments nor GPs are equipped to deal with dental issues.
Therefore, the BDA have drafted a letter in an attempt to arrange an agreement regarding this issue.
The Chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, has written this letter to Chief Dental Officer (CDO) for England Sara Hurley. The purpose of the letter is to arrange a meeting to discuss the matter further.
This plan could address the CDO’s concerns about the need for a long-term solution to improve access to urgent dental care. As well as reducing costly A&E and GP attendances for dental complaints. It also points out that if the BDA’s proposal was adopted it would also have the benefit of providing a clear indication to NHS 111. Meaning dental practices have the availability and capacity to treat patients who need urgent care.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen spoke about the BDA’s plans:
“No one is in any doubt, not least the CDO, that our NHS hospital and GP services are bursting at the seams and how, unwittingly, dental attendances are adding to these pressures.
“We believe dentists can ease this burden if more slots were commissioned for in-hours urgent care. This would ease the frustration for patients who cannot get the care they need from seeing their GP or going to the A&E.
“Ensuring patients are treated in the right place, at the right time, by the right team is essential, both to ensure appropriate diagnosis and treatment for patients and to help optimise the NHS’s finite resources.
“We’re sure this would also make it easier for NHS 111 to do their job because they would know where to direct patients for urgent dental care.”
What are your thoughts? Do you think it would be beneficial to have dentists offering urgent care to help out A&E departments?