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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 May, 2005, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Dentists address violence levels
A dentist
Dentists are victims of violence and intimidation, say officials
Violence towards dentists and their staff from frustrated patients is to come under the spotlight at a conference.

How they cope with this and escalating levels of stress will be addressed at Gregynog Hall, near Newtown, Powys.

Hosted by the Welsh Rural Postgraduate Unit, 100 dentists from Wales and England will gather on 10 June.

The British Dental Association said its annual conference next week would discuss violence directed at dentists.

The association added that it was an "increasing problem."

Postgraduate dental tutor for rural Wales, Dr Charles Vaughan-Jones, said dentists and staff were taught how to defuse heated situations and how to "break away" from aggressive patients.

He added that the conference's theme was partly influenced by the response to a workshop dealing with violence in the workplace that he organised for rural dental teams last year.

It can be a grind for reception staff to get through the day
Dr Charles Vaughan-Jones

"It is a fact that people with tooth ache who turn up at surgeries and are told that they cannot be seen don't usually say, 'ok' and wander off," said Dr Vaughan-Jones.

"People who are suffering and are told their nearest dental treatment is 60 miles away understandably get angry, but they are taking their frustrations out on the wrong people. It's not the dental staff who are to blame."

Mr Vaughan-Jones added that a lack of NHS dental provision was probably adding to the increased levels of intimidation.

"It can be a grind for reception staff to get through the day," he said.

"They have to deal with people who can be very horrible to them over the phone and face-to-face."

"Dentists and staff are having to cope with a growing problem of violence and this is also increasing stress levels among dental staff."

The British Dental Association said it took the issue of violence seriously.


A spokesman said: "Violence towards dentists and dental staff - and health workers generally - is an increasing problem and is an issue that the BDA takes very seriously.

"Dentists and their staff have the right to a working environment free of intimidation where they can treat patients without concerns about their safety."

A lack of provision of NHS dentists, especially in rural Wales, has caused problems for patients with some have to travel many miles for treatment.

Last month, an extra 5m aimed at keeping dentists in the Welsh NHS was announced by the Welsh Assembly Government.

The conference at Gregynog Hall will be held on 10 June.

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