Urgent steps are required to help support small dentistry practices at the moment during the coronavirus crisis or large parts of the country’s dental service will be faced with imminent collapse.

This is according to the British Dental Association (BDA), which has found that, since all routine care has now been suspended, 71.5 per cent of practices say they will only be able to remain financially sustainable for three months or less.

Some 26 per cent of practices say they have already tried to secure an interruption loan but 93.4 per cent have found they were unable to secure credit. And 46.7 per cent of those who failed in this regard say they have had to take out commercial loans in order to keep their heads above water, at reported interest rates of more than 20 per cent.

Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA, said that there are many practices around the country that now find themselves just weeks “from a cliff edge” and taking on debt that they “may never be able to repay”.

“It was right to suspend all non-urgent care, but without meaningful support the nation’s dental services face decimation, and no practice can be excluded. Dentistry cannot weather this storm when nearly every surgery relies on private care to stay afloat. If officials let these vital services go to the wall the impact will be felt by patients in every community in Britain,” he went on to add.

According to the BDA, the vast majority of practices in the UK provide both private and NHS care in varying proportions. Those practices that have a greater share of private work seem to be most exposed, with 75 per cent of those with low or now commitments to the NHS saying they will face imminent difficulties inside three months.

Industry leaders are now calling for the full rates relief that has been offered to retail and hospitality businesses to be extended to all high street practices, as well as the simplification and expansion of the government loan scheme to be accelerated.

In an interesting move, dentists around the UK are now signing up to work in the Urgent Care Clinics that are being established to provide dental care in safe conditions at this trying time. In Northern Ireland, for example, four times the number of required dentists in these care centres volunteered their services in the first week alone!

It might be worth you seeing if there are any clinics in your local area that could benefit from your skills and experience… and it will help you feel practical and helpful if your practice has had to close for the foreseeable future.

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