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News / July 10, 2020

CDO for Northern Ireland questioned on COVID-19 dental decisions

by Gaby Bissett

The acting chief dental officer for Northern Ireland responded to a number of key dental issues voiced by the profession

The acting CDO for Northern Ireland has responded to a number of key dental issues voiced by the profession.

Yesterday, CDO Michael Donaldson appeared before the Assembly Health Committee alongside Paul Montgomery, acting director of general health policy.

The pair responded to a number of problems from committee members, many of which were highlighted by the British Dental Association (BDA). Following the discussion, the health committee agreed to put forward a number of issues to the health minister.

New oral health strategy

These included:

  • Difficulties in accessing Level II PPE
  • Maternity issues
  • Evidence-based issues on fallow times.

Other concerns include the closure of Urgent Dental Care Centres (UDCs) from 29 July and morale within the dental profession. Additionally, the need for a new oral health strategy and the prioritisation of dentistry was also mentioned.

Unique challenges

‘At the end of the day, this is all to do with a balance of safety and reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission while at the same time trying to deal with the oral health needs of our population,’ said CDO Michael Donaldson.

The meeting saw a robust discussion take place, with participants raising a number of questions directed at the CDO. These included if and what evidence his decisions were based on, and where else in the world a one hour fallow period has been introduced.

Additionally, a committee member pointed out that Northern Ireland has its own ‘unique challenges’. He also asked why it cannot take its own decisions given that it has a devolved health system.

You can watch the full meeting here.

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