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Debates and questions

S5W-30239: Alison Johnstone (Lothian)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 25 June 2020

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to address the backlog of both routine and urgent dental work that has accumulated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 8 July 2020

The remobilisation of NHS dental practices is an extremely complex process in which the health and safety of all dental patients and staff is the main consideration. From 22 June, all dental practices will be able to open and treat patients in need of urgent dental care. This will mean up to an additional 10,000 appointment slots available per day across Scotland. We have also announced that from 13 July dental practices may see patients for routine care. This is an indicative date and is dependent on Scotland moving to phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Route Map.

Most routine and emergency dental care relies on the use of dental equipment that generates a fine spray of air and water, or aerosol. These aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) carry an additional risk of COVID-19 transmission. The Chief Dental Officer has a continued focus the development of measures to allow the safe reintroduction AGPs, and work has been commissioned from the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) to expedite this. Where the treatment of the patient requires an AGP it will still be provided in one of the urgent dental care centres in Scotland.

The arrangements set out above are designed to maximise activity and foreshorten the backlog within routine dentistry. Later phasing will gradually introduce a greater level of routine care, including a limited reintroduction of AGPs for high street dental practices under strict infection control measures. Any move forward in the delivery of dental services will be based on ensuring that we balance the oral health needs of patients against the wider situation with COVID-19, and the essential requirement that we reduce the risk of community transmission and protect both patients and dental teams.