Derry MLA echoes BDA ‘death knell’ warning as dentists’ support cut

SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said that a cut in support for dental practices could mean that more practices become unviable.

It follows a statement from British Dental Association reacting to the recent announcement by the Department of Health that the amount allocated to the Rebuilding Support scheme designed to support practices will be cut from 25% to 10%.

Ms. McLaughlin said: “Dentists across Derry and the rest of the North will significantly impacted by the Covid pandemic and practices everywhere are facing a huge backlog, with many simply unable to take on new patients. This obviously risks having really serious outcomes in terms of poorer health in the population and more health inequality at a time when we can least afford it.

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“The news from the Department that the Rebuilding Support Scheme is now to be cut will come as yet another blow for dental practices and their patients who have also been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis.

SDLP Foyle MLA Sineád McLaughlin.

“Like many businesses, they are wondering how they will keep their lights on and their employees in a job. We know that the current system is failing dentists and patients and it will undoubtedly be discouraging people from entering the profession as well as services struggle for survival. A new, fit for purpose contract is needed more than ever.”

In a statement, the BDA warned that the scheme has helped practices stay afloat in recent months, ‘but this could be the death knell for health service dentistry’.

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The BDA added: “We recognise the efforts that the Department of Health has made to keep the lights on in HS dentistry across Northern Ireland. Covid brought unprecedented problems across society, with dentistry particularly impacted. The Department of Health’s Financial Support Scheme and Rebuilding Support Scheme were welcome, and we don’t want to detract from the efforts made by the Minister and his officials over the last few years.

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Dentists. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP) (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

“Time is running out for the survival of HS dentistry. We have sought to work constructively with the Department of Health to seek urgent solutions to the immediate expenses crisis, but at this stage no meaningful solution has been proposed and current support has been downgraded.”