Bury St Edmunds dental practice Sycamore House warns Government targets during coronavirus pandemic are 'ill judged at best and reckless at worst'
A Bury St Edmunds dental practice has warned that Government targets to nearly double face-to-face appointments are 'ill judged at best and reckless at worst' during the pandemic.
Sycamore House Dental Practice, at Northgate Business Park, says the performance measures, which expect dentists to deliver 45 per cent of their pre-pandemic levels of activity between January and March, are 'not compatible with working safely'.
An update sent to patients on Wednesday afternoon said: "Performance targets make no sense in a pandemic. This is why as a practice, we have taken the decision to disregard these targets."
The practice has written to Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill, who as a junior health minister is responsible for dentistry.
"Our refusal to meet these targets may have consequences for our NHS funding down the line," the practice said in its update.
"If our funding is cut, we will have to reduce our NHS work. We don't think we should risk anyone's health in pursuit of a ridiculous government target."
It noted the World Health Organisation recommended delaying routine dental care until 'sufficient reduction' in transmission rates.
The practice explained the risk is greater in dentistry as 'social distancing is not possible and most procedures produce generous amounts of aerosols i.e saliva and water spray' which is how the virus spreads.
Sycamore continues to 'prioritise urgent treatments' and offers routine care with pre-appointment screening and triage.
A number of elderly and medically vulnerable patients have postponed their routine care, which the practice said was 'good risk management'.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "The 45 per cent target set by NHS England is expected to ensure access to vital NHS dental care for patients.
"This target takes full account of the need for infection controls and other mitigations, in conjunction with social distancing requirements, and is based upon modelling from the Office of the Chief Dental Officer of what can safely be achieved and data on dental activity achieved to date.
"An exceptions process is in place for practices who are unable to deliver due to extenuating circumstances."