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POD: Children's dental 'recovery plan' to start next year

POD: Children's dental 'recovery plan' to start next year

Friday 03 December 2021

POD: Children's dental 'recovery plan' to start next year


The Government has pledged that a “recovery plan” to clear the backlog of hundreds of children’s dental appointments pushed back by the pandemic will get underway in the New Year, after a charity called for “immediate” action on the “unacceptable” situation.

In a letter to politicians tasked with reviewing the Government's funding plans, co-founder of Super Smiles, Sarah Pollard, said that “children are waiting seven years for Orthodontic treatment and in the community department over 5,000 children are awaiting a dental appointment.”

Super Smiles is a dental charity focused on providing oral hygiene education to children through school workshops, which were disrupted by the pandemic.

Ms Pollard raised further concerns that lockdown may have led to an increase in sugary snacking among children while brushing routines are disrupted, posing a risk of tooth decay. 

She noted that the Government's dental department is "currently unable to support any consistent dental care", with only one full-time dentist and one part-time dentist working, and called for a temporary change in approach by Government to reduce “inequalities” in children’s dental care. 

Dentist_Interview.jpg

CLICK TO LISTEN: Sarah Pollard was this week's interviewee on the Bailiwick Podcast.

Responding, a Health spokesperson said the department was “committed to providing the best possible dental and orthodontic care for children and young people.” 

They added: “Each year, there are approximately 2,800 appointments within the community dental service. 

“Although patients are seen in chronological order, if they are assessed to require urgent treatment during their routine appointment this treatment will be carried out within a tight timeframe to ensure the best possible outcome. No patient assessed as urgent is left waiting for care. Furthermore, if a parent is concerned about their child’s dental health they can contact the department and, if appropriate, their appointment may be brought forward.” 

Speaking about the ”significant disruption” to dental and orthodontic services caused by the pandemic, the spokesperson elaborated: “In line with safe practice guidance, all elective and routine services were suspended at the end of March and only reopened with a reduced capacity at the beginning of July 2020.

“This resulted in several hundred appointments having to be postponed which has resulted in a backlog of patients waiting to be seen. If a patient’s treatment was suspended due to covid-19, they would have been invited back to their regular appointments once the department re-opened.” 

To ease those pressures, they said a “recovery plan to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic is in the process of being drawn up and a business case is due to be ready in the new year.” 

The spokesperson continued: “Meanwhile, work to develop an Oral Health Strategy, which will provide a strategic approach for the service in the future, is progressing well. This wide-ranging strategy will include prevention and screening policies, ensuring equity across the service as well as addressing waiting lists. It is expected that this strategy will be finalised in March.” 

They did not address Super Smiles’ comments in relation to staffing levels.

LISTEN…

Express spoke to Sarah Pollard of Super Smiles in further depth about her concerns about children's dental care...

A check-up on children's dental services

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