Dental Protection emphasises support as new survey reveals impact of staff shortages on dental nurses’ wellbeing


  Posted by: Dental Design      28th September 2023

Over a third (35%) of Dental Nurses who took part in a new survey say the impact of staff shortages on the delivery of quality care is affecting their mental health, and 27% say they are not able to take breaks during the day to eat or drink.

In the Dental Protection survey of over 1,300 dental professionals in the UK, 32% of the 153 Dental Nurses who responded say the effect of exhaustion on the delivery of quality patient care is also having a negative impact on their mental health.

Dr Yvonne Shaw, Deputy Dental Director at Dental Protection said: “Dentistry is still a rewarding profession – being able to improve oral health and the quality of life of the public is a privilege which instils a sense of professional satisfaction. However, morale in the profession seems to be at a low ebb, and wellbeing concerns are central to this.

“Demand for dental services remains high, the environment is increasingly challenging and there is a limit on what can be done within available capacity. Clearly some dental professionals are not taking breaks during the working day and are skipping meals, foregoing essential nourishment as a result. This is exacerbated by work overload and staff shortages.

“Dental professionals are among the most dedicated healthcare professionals, so I am not surprised that many put the concerns of patients before their own; however, not stopping to eat and drink is concerning both for the health of the dental team and the adverse impact this can have on the delivery of care.

“One of the many problems with staff shortages is the knock-on effect on the mental health of remaining staff who risk becoming exhausted and/or demotivated. Over half of our members tell us they are worrying about how exhaustion and burnout are impacting the safe delivery of patient care. The effect of not being able to provide optimum standards of care on any healthcare professional’s mental health – due to external factors and pressures outside of their control – cannot be overstated.

“I would encourage members experiencing work-related stress to make use of our 24/7 counselling service and other wellbeing support which is a benefit of membership with Dental Protection. The service is provided through a third-party partner and is completely confidential.”

Dental Nurses who participated in the Dental Protection survey commented anonymously:

“I am under a lot of stress as I am expected to do my dental nursing and reception work, working one to one without a receptionist cover.”

“The shortage of experienced good nurses is affecting all staff, with more work and no let up from patients if you don’t get back to them immediately.”

“I am a dental nurse; whilst I love my job and enjoy working alongside my clinician, the days can be long and booked up, and I also tend to work into my lunch hour, because there is no designated time for the re-processing of instruments.”

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