An urgent dental care centre has been set up in Ramsgate to deal with vital treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.
The centre is one of 36 across the south east – with two more due to open.
All non-urgent dental activity has stopped in line with the social distancing restrictions brought in by the government on March 23.
The centres have been introduced via NHS England South East and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) which says in a briefing they are to meet urgent dental care needs for:
- Those who are possible or confirmed COVID-19 patients – including patients with symptoms, or those living in their household
- Those who are ‘shielded’, as being at most-significant risk from COVID-19
- Those who are vulnerable/at increased risk from COVID-19
- Any other people who do not fit one of the above categories
The urgent dental care hubs allow separation and treatment of patients after they have been referred by a dentist – either their own or from another local dental practice which is still be providing phone advice.
Each patient will then be triaged by the urgent dental care hub. Patients will be assessed on whether they need urgent treatment which cannot wait. Where patients are at risk or shielded, they will be seen in appropriate settings.
The NHSE/I briefing says: “Where possible and safe, patients may be able to manage the dental problem themselves through taking painkillers or prescribed antibiotics to treat any dental infection. Face to face treatment is available when clinically required.
“Drop-ins to urgent dental care hubs are not allowed given the need to protect patient and staff safety.”
The opening of hubs has been contingent on securing personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff members.
The precise locations have not been revealed as access is by appointment only. Anyone with an urgent or emergency dental condition should first contact a dental practice for a telephone assessment.
County councillor Karen Constantine, who received details as part of her role on the authority’s health scrutiny panel, said: “Whilst I welcome this much needed service, and agree that our most vulnerable residents need priority, I would urge caution as those who do not fit into a category may have conditions and possible infections which warrant prompt treatment. People shouldn’t put off contacting their dentist for treatment.”