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Belfast dentist says plans to deliver PPE do not go far enough

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Concerns: Dr Lida Fartash

Concerns: Dr Lida Fartash

Concerns: Dr Lida Fartash

A Belfast dentist has said plans by the Health Minister to supply surgeries with Personal Protection Equipment do not go far enough.

It's expected that dentists will be permitted to restart aerosol generating procedures such as fillings from July 20.

Dr Lida Fartash of Elite Dental on the Ravenhill Road, however, said the current arrangements to deliver PPE made this "absolutely impossible".

Yesterday, the Health Minister Robin Swann met with members of the British Dental Association to announce that more than 3million individual items of PPE - including masks, visors, gloves and aprons - will be delivered to dental practices in the next 10-14 days.

He added that a financial support scheme had already provided £12m to local dentists and will continue for a further two months.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Dr Fartash said: "Unfortunately, the list of PPE that they are giving us, not all of the essential items we need to start aerosol generating procedures are there. So we still have no idea about when we can actually start."

While welcoming the £12m already paid out to local dentists, she said it wasn't enough for services to resume.

"What's the use of receiving this money if we can't treat patients?

"This is the heartbreaking part for us.

"We have old women who have lost their dentures or have broken teeth and they all need to receive urgent attention."

She added: "The legislation says if you use one room for a filling, the NHS payment is £9.50. For that I need my staff to be fully protected with PPE.

"The price for two of us is £15.50. After that surgery we have to leave the room for one hour to allow the aerosol to settle down.

"How can anyone go back to work like that, it's absolutely impossible."

Meanwhile, new figures released yesterday have shown that children in Northern Ireland have consistently needed more fillings than their UK counterparts.

The statistics from the Health and Social Care Business Services Organisation said 21% of children registered with a dentist received a filling during 2019/20, despite an overall reduction by 12% in the last four years.

Dr Fartash said a greater focus was needed on dental education in early school years, and that differences in payment methods between Northern Ireland and mainland UK could also account for the ongoing differences.

Belfast Telegraph