UK: 47% of dentists are considering leaving the profession
Nearly half of UK dentists could leave the profession in the next 12 months if COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are maintained. As a result, there are calls to relax the exorbitant infection control measures in offices to allow dentists to see more patients.
Should the expected changes in this regard not take place, an unprecedented situation could arise – 47% of active general dentists quitting their jobs within the next year (resignation or early retirement).
BDA report reveals poor sentiment among dentists
A report prepared by the British Dental Association (BDA) shows that in the absence of expected changes, almost half of dentists intend to reduce their work under contracts with the National Health Service (NHS). This, in turn, would further restrict access to treatment for the UK's poorer residents, who also have greater dental needs than patients at private dental clinics.
Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) UK dentists say the burden of PPE is undermining their confidence in their future in the profession. In contrast, 78% of dentists say their main sources of concern are a sense of uncertainty about finances and the inability to provide care at the same level as before the pandemic.
Nearly two-thirds of dentists with contracts with the National Health Service estimate that they are unable to meet targets (currently 60% of pre-pandemic activity levels in NHS practices). In addition, 62% of dentists say they have invested in new ventilator equipment despite the lack of government support, and 41% have been forced to treat urgent cases instead of routine patient visits.
The not-so-optimistic picture of British dentistry is completed by the news that 28 million visits to National Health Service practices have not been completed between March 2020 and the end of the year – that's about 70% of the visits that, based on previous years' data, should have taken place during that time.
There is a need for a clear timetable of action
In the wake of the alarming voices coming from the dental community, the British Dental Association is calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government to set a clear map for reform, as well as to ease the measures currently in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shawn Charlwood, chairman of the BDA's general dental practice committee, said: – The pandemic has prevented millions of people from accessing a dentist and has hit the medical community hard, many of whom are now considering quitting. Practices have managed to meet NHS targets, paying a very high price for doing so. However, reform in dental practices under the NHS will not be possible if dentists do not want to work in them. We need a clear timetable that removes restrictions and provides all practitioners with the necessary support.