A Moray dentist believes restrictions imposed on the sector to limit the spread of coronavirus could be having the opposite effect.
Dental practices are due to remain closed for face-to-face patient consultations until phase two as part of the Scottish Government’s plan to ease lockdown rules.
Problems securing appointments have led to some resorting to performing their own operations during the pandemic despite urgent care continuing to be provided at regional centres for those identified as needing attention quickly.
And Gordon Smart, a director of Forres Dental Care, believes “corralling” patients in one location works against the aims of attempts to slow the spread of the virus.
Cases referred by Mr Smart are currently seen in Elgin alongside those from other practices from across Moray.
The dentist, who has been more than 30 years of experience, has written to Scotland’s chief dental officer to ask for practices to be allowed to reopen with the same safety measures used in the current regional centres.
He said: “In my opinion the management of unscheduled dental care during the Covid-19 pandemic has lost all sight of patient focus.
“The corralling of patients towards centralised services is in complete contradiction to a common sense approach to social distancing and has put patients in danger.
“In my experience most, if not, all dental practices carry an adequate stock of PPE that would allow them to have continued to provide and appropriate, safe unscheduled care service to their patients for a number of weeks.”
Mr Smart said he was currently providing about four telephone consultations a day to patients who are seeking treatment before a decision is taken about whether to refer them to one of the urgent care regional centres.
The dentist has written to Scotland’s chief dental officer, Tom Ferris, to ask for assurances that patients are still receiving quality care despite the practitioners they are seeing having no access to their clinical notes.
Mr Ferris wrote to dental practices across the country last week to outline plans that would increase capacity at the regional centres providing urgent care.
The official explained there was no timeline for reaching phase two, but added that he expected progress to have been made before the end of July.
However, he said reopening practices would be dependent on the availability of PPE.