There have been calls for “urgent clarification” after claims that a supplier in England had been told not to sell some personal protective equipment to dentists in Wales.
Senedd Member Rhun ap Iorwerth has written to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warning of the implications a lack of PPE would have on plans to reopen dentists in Wales from July.
A Cardiff dentist had said that he was unable to purchase some PPE from his usual suppliers, as it has been allocated for dentists in England.
Stephen Clark of Penylan Dental Practice in Cardiff said that any procedures they carry out that could create a potential infectious aerosol spray, such as drilling, require more advanced PPE.
“Countrywide, it’s pretty much everyone in Wales to a degree is struggling to find, maybe, masks or aprons or gowns,” he told the BBC. “So even though the 1 July we’ll be able to open to see patients, I fear that a lot of practices won’t be able to open and patients will suffer as a result.”
In the letter to Matt Hancock, Plaid Cymru MS and Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care Rhun ap Iorwerth said he had heard of similar concerns being raised by other Welsh dentists.
“Given that sufficient PPE is vital for the delivery of dental care, and that any delays due to inadequate PPE can lead to far-reaching, negative impacts on dental health, can I ask for urgent clarification about any restrictions that have been put in place for English-based wholesalers and their ability to sell to other UK nations,” the letter said.
“Earlier in the pandemic, claims emerged from Welsh care homes that their usual suppliers were instructed to only sell to English care homes.”
Normally dentists purchase PPE on the open market, but during the pandemic, supplies from manufacturers in England have been centralised. Wholesalers purchasing the equipment from the English Department of Health can only sell them on to dentists working in England.
The Department of Health have said that PPE was a matter for the Welsh Government.
The Welsh Government said that any PPE shortages have been managed via NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership and PPE has been supplied directly to dentists.