Dental services for the Western Isles remain severely constrained by the continued social distancing and decontamination rules as part of the fight against Covid-19.
NHS Western Isles says: "Whilst it is important to reinstate as wide a range of services for as many people as possible, it is also essential to ensure that we continue to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of both patients and staff.
"The number of appointments we are able to offer is significantly reduced.
"Following the treatment of a patient, current guidelines require us to ensure adequate air change occurs within the treatment room before the next treatment begins.
"Essentially, as a result of the pandemic, each half-hour appointment can now take over an hour of clinic time, as a result of new cleaning and decontamination measures required between each appointment."
How have appointments changed?
- When patients call for an appointment, reception staff will ask a few simple questions (e.g. do you have a cough, fever, or loss of or change in taste or sense of smell?). These questions are intended to reduce the risk of a patient inadvertently bringing the virus into dental waiting areas.
- Waiting areas have fewer seats to allow essential physical distancing, and may feature screens to separate patients. Within smaller clinics, patients may be asked to wait outside until their appointment time.
- Patients are expected to attend their appointment on time and will be required to wear a face mask, unless they hold a Scottish Government Exemption Card. Anyone medically exempt from wearing a mask must present a Scottish Government Exemption Card – other forms of exemption card will not be accepted. Those eligible for an exemption card can obtain the card by visiting www.exempt.scot or via the free helpline at 0800 121 6240. Patients who decline to wear a face mask for any other reason, such as personal preference, will be denied entry.
What treatment is being offered?
Whilst the NHS has reinstated a wide range of treatment, the impact of having been limited for many months to emergency-only care means that dental treatment will continue be prioritised to patients requiring urgent and emergency care, and those with planned or scheduled treatment, in order of greatest need.
Dentistry is part of your overall healthcare and we will always prioritise patients with the greatest need first. We aim to see anyone needing ‘emergency care’ on the same day. Dental emergencies are:
- Severe pain
"We also aim to see those with ‘urgent conditions’ (such as lost fillings causing pain or trauma; worsening toothache; lumps or ulcers; and lost crowns or dentures) on the same day if space permits, but otherwise as soon as possible.
"In terms of ‘planned or scheduled treatment’, some patients will have outstanding treatment waiting to be finished, and your dentist will aim to deal with this as appointment time permits. Again, those with the greatest need will be appointed first.
"Whilst it is hoped to reintroduce routine examinations for low-risk patients later in the year, examinations will be offered first to patients at increased risk of disease, e.g. patients with cancer, those with a disability and children."
For further information on new arrangements relating to local dental services visit: www.wihb.scot.nhs.uk/our-services/dental-services