Sir, I read with great interest the paper by I. W. Hashem et al. as the dental care of hospital in-patients has long been a concern of mine.1
Back in the 1970s I was employed as In-Patient Dental Officer at Guy’s Hospital where my duties were to look after the dental care of hospital in-patients. A large part of my work included pre-operative assessment and treatment of cardiothoracic patients and dealing with dental emergencies when they arose not just at Guy’s but also at the associated hospitals and care homes in the Guy’s group. I had a stand-alone surgery in the main hospital and a dental nurse to assist me. Informal seminars were also given to nurses about the importance of the oral health of patients in their care.2
In this time of enormous pressure on the NHS utilising the expertise of the dental team would help relieve the stresses on the hard-pressed medical and nursing staff engaged currently in their battle against COVID-19 and in the long term improve patient care without adding to the burden on the already over-stretched doctors and nurses.
Unfortunately, dental services for in-patients fell victim to one of the early cutbacks in NHS funding in the 1980s. It is surely time to revisit this aspect of holistic care neglected for far too long.
Hashem I, Gillway D, Doshi M. Dental care pathways for adult inpatients in an acute hospital: a five-year service evaluation. Br Dent J 2020; 228: 687-692.
Feaver G. Health policy: Hospital cutbacks. Br Dent J 2017: 223: 464.
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Feaver, G. In-patient dental care.
Br Dent J 229, 214 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-2085-6