Dentists working hard to meet patient needs

15th February 2022 | Posted by: Vanessa Giraud

Dentists work hard to meet patient needs and expectations under normal circumstances. But now, the pressures are more challenging than ever, even compared to earlier on in the pandemic. We appreciate our patients’ understanding.

Here are five ways you can help us:

  • When staff are busy, they cannot always answer the phone, so if you can it’s really helpful if you use our online contact us form instead.
  • If we have to prioritise essential treatment, you may have to wait for an appointment. Please be patient, and we’ll try to fit you in when we have appointments available.
  • If you come into the practice, please follow the directions our staff give you. They are instructed to make sure you follow rules about sanitising, masks and social distancing, for example.
  • Missed appointments means we lose time when we could have seen another patient. Please get in touch to cancel an appointment at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Also, please be kind to us. We’re all tired, and feeling under pressure. It’s lovely when patients let us know our efforts are understood and appreciated.

Staffing is more challenging

You’ll have seen news about the shortage of HGV delivery drivers and probably had to queue for fuel. But the  dental sector is also affected by the revised UK post Brexit employment laws. The availability of dentists and other health care professionals is affected. New entry requirements and changes to the right to work in the UK are having an impact of the availability of clinicians. Moreover, the pandemic caused restrictions on qualifying examinations, and a larger than usual number of experienced dentists decided not to renew their registration. The pool of dental professionals looking for work has shrunk. We are setting up new ways to hire and train staff, but it takes time.

Is it hard to get a dental appointments now?

We’re doing our best

We’re hearing concerns not just from dentists, but from other customer-facing services, whether it’s in shops, bars, gyms or health facilities. It seems that many people are disappointed to find services are not running the way they used to. We’ve all been through various lockdowns and lots of levels of restriction. Now there is more freedom, but we’re still a long way from how things used to be.

In dentistry, it’s unlikely we will ever return to exactly the way we were. We just need to remember the impact a virus can have – no dentist these days could work the way we used to before HIV awareness in the 1980s. We are adjusting to work with it.

Dentists really are working hard. There are lots of complicated reasons coming together to make it harder for dental practices to see as many patients as they would like to. Patient demand for appointments is high, yet dentists are working to nearly the same restrictions as earlier in the pandemic. With the added complications of ‘Covid Fatigue,’ the ‘Pingdemic’ and the employment complications of Brexit.

We’re fortunate. We’ve been receiving thoughtful reviews and kind comments from our patients. Moreover, we love reading them. It’s a great boost to our morale during a time when we hadn’t expected things to be so tough.

The pandemic is not over

In keeping with the upbeat spirit of the government we’d all like to think we’re on the home run, learning to live with the virus. We want to believe vaccinations have worked and everything is going to be fine. It’s true that in general the situation is better as fewer people who are infected by the virus die, yet researchers are still trying to understand the effects of long-Covid on public health.

Even after all this time, so many lockdowns, and a lot of preventive measures, the pandemic is not over. And the operating procedures for dentists are still strict and difficult, particularly for aerosol generating treatments. And AGPs are what dentists do a lot of. A root canal, for example, we may expect to be more demanding of tools and time, but even a simple filling or hygiene appointment involves an AGP using the modern tools we’re used to.

eyes of a dental nurse Whitchurch over a blue hygiene mask

Dentists work hard to respond to patient needs

Some of our practices need to prioritise urgent and essential care at the moment. This means there may be a longer wait for a routine appointment than you would expect in the future.  If you’re wondering what’s causing difficulties, please read our brief explanations below.

We’re still following strict infection control protocols

We have to be vigilant, and diligent to protect the health of patients and staff. Since dentists were allowed to reopen in June 2020 after the compulsory close down, we have worked to strict new operating procedures. And we still are.

While other sectors are opening up, dentists must still follow tight controls on access, PPE, sanitising, social distancing, staff interaction and testing, for example.

Even now, when our waiting rooms are open again, numbers are restricted, so we may still require you to wait outside when the reception area is full.

Please help us to help you by following instructions, even if you question whether they’re really necessary. They are the rules the staff in the practice are obliged to follow. We’re doing our best to help you access care, while keeping both staff and other patients safe.

Staffing is more challenging

Brexit has affected the availability of dentists and other health care professionals too. New entry requirements and changes to the right to work in the UK are having an impact of the availability of clinicians. Moreover, the pandemic caused restrictions on qualifying examinations, and a larger than usual number of experienced dentists decided not to renew their registration. The pool of dental professionals looking for work has shrunk. We are setting up new ways to hire and train staff, but it takes time.

It’s hard for the staff we have

Staff are affected by the same pressures as our patients, such as family concerns, the need to self-isolate, and to take a break from time to time. It has been a difficult time for us all, and we all need to protect our mental well-being as well as our physical health. All of our staff have been very supportive, showing their dedication to our patients and their duties throughout the pandemic. With long hours, additional training and new ways of working, they have stepped up to meet new professional demands.

You can help

We kindly ask our patients to continue to show support to our staff. We really appreciate your kindness and understanding.

On the topic:

POSTED IN: Covid-19


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