Friday 14 January 2022
Wales: Dentists face challenging environment
Last year, we launched a survey to check in on the mental health of dentists in Wales. Rather than showing any improvement in the reported mental health of respondents, this has once again
revealed the high stress levels and difficult working conditions faced by dentists in Wales.
Some of the challenges and likely long-term impacts include:
- 70.5% of respondents of all ages feel the pandemic has led to them rethinking their career in dentistry
- Concerns for patient backlog remains high, with 75% very concerned
- A whopping 83.1% of respondents reported they had gone to work despite not feeling mentally well enough over the past six months. Almost half had done so for more than ten days
- Lunch breaks have decreased in the last six months, with only 50% often being able to take a half an hour lunch break
- 82.1% of respondents say they have experienced rude or abusive behaviour from patients in the last six months. Much of this abuse was aimed at staff or nurses.
This paints a highly concerning picture. We will present these findings to the Welsh Government's Dental Committee early this year, making a strong case for support to dentists and dentistry.
Confidential counselling and emotional support
We provide all members with access to Health Assured, a comprehensive confidential service designed to help you deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home life or work life, health, and general wellbeing. Members can access the helpline 24/7, 365 days a year. Support includes:
- Life support: Unlimited access to counselling, a pathway to structured telephone counselling for you or your dependents and for you face-to-face counselling sessions at your convenience
- Legal information: Advice for you on any issues, including debt management, accountancy, lawsuits, consumer disputes, property or neighbour disputes
- Bereavement support: Experienced counsellors who can help with grief and related stress plus a team of legal advisors to help with legal issues
- CBT online: We recognise the value of self-help tools in dealing with a range of issues, which is why we have a range of CBT self-help modules, informative factsheets and invaluable advice videos from leading qualified counsellors.
Scotland: Tools to support staff wellbeing
The Scottish Government have collated a list of useful tools available to help support staff wellbeing.
After persistent pressure from the BDA to address this vital issue, particularly in light of the pandemic, the government unveiled the Workforce Specialist Service. This tool offers confidential mental health assessment and treatment for all regulated health professionals providing NHS services, including independent contractors.
The Workspace Specialist Service joins a body of services also devoted to help support staff wellbeing.
- National Wellbeing Helpline (0800 111 4191): Trained practitioners at NHS 24 offer psychological support and provide a compassionate and empathic listening service, advice, signposting and onward referral to local services if required. This service is 24/7.
- Leadership Support: Coaching, peer support and cross-sector learning sets
Coaching for Wellbeing: A digital coaching service for all health and social care staff
National Wellbeing Hub: A self-care and wellbeing resources for all staff, unpaid carers, volunteers and their families to enhance personal resilience and signpost to relevant mental health and support services.
There is also funding additional funding available to support psychological care, including £4 million set aside to provide resources for wellbeing. More information can be found at:
Caring for those who care for us.
England: Pioneering NHS dentists thrown under the bus
We have criticised the insufficient support offered to over 100 pioneering practices in England, who are being forced back to working to historic models of care from April after years of testing new ways of providing NHS care.
These 'prototype' practices volunteered to form the test bed for new ways of delivering dentistry, to replace the widely discredited target-based NHS dental contract. Reverting to the original model will now see them facing significant challenges. These practices are being offered a helpline and patient leaflets to deal with the change. This will do little to mitigate the disruption caused.
Thursday 13 January 2022
England: Additional exceptional circumstances announced
NHS England has announced additional exceptional circumstances arrangements to provide further support to practices hit by Covid-related staff absences in the Omicron wave. Where patient activity is lost due to a staff absence as a direct result of COVID-19 or due to self-isolation from 1 December 2021 to 31 March 2022, contractors will be able to submit a claim for this lost activity to be credited to the contract.
Contractors will need to promptly notify commissioners within five working days of the absence using the template available from the BSA and submit it to the BSA (firstname.lastname@example.org) with regional commissioners copied in. Retrospective claims for December and early January must be submitted by 31 January in order to be considered.
Contractors will be asked to provide evidence of the staff who are advised to self-isolate and the proof that they are required to do so from either test and trace or a test result. You must also evidence the period of patient care affected by supplying the relevant appointment books for the affected sessions to demonstrate the UDAs lost as a result of the absence.
To be eligible, you must comply with all other requirements to receive income protection and self-isolation guidance for staff, as well as submitting workforce returns. You cannot claim in relation to absences for non-COVID illness or for vacancies, and the arrangements do not apply to instances where patients do not attend as a result of COVID-19. Once a decision has been reached on the activity to be credited to your contract, this will be communicated to you along with the rationale for the calculation made.
We will be producing advice for members about how to deal with any activity credited under these arrangements in relation to associate payments.
We will continue to press NHS England for further concessions given the ongoing impact of Omicron. In order to make that case, we're asking for your views on working through Omicron. Please help us make your voice heard, and fill out this new survey.
England: Free PPE extended to March 2023
The offer of
free PPE to frontline health and social care staff in England has been extended until 31 March 2023, or until infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance is withdrawn or significantly amended.
The Government has also said it is developing an improved platform for the procurement of PPE that will be quicker and easier to use. Health and social care providers have been invited to test-drive the new platform and help design a service that works best for them.
Resources: Managing stress in dentistry
If you are experiencing stress at work, know that you are not alone. Almost half of dentists say stress in their job is exceeding their ability to cope. To help you, we're holding a
CPD certified webinar on
Thursday 27 January 2022 at 19:30, led by psychotherapist Anthony Asquith.
This session will cover:
- How to tackle worry and stress head on
- Stress management strategies
- How to work more productively and sustainably.
We also encourage you to make use of the
UK-wide resources available to help you manage stress. Whether you want advice, counselling or simply a listening ear, there are many services there to support you.
CPD: Equality, diversity and inclusion
No one should be negatively affected by uncontrollable factors such as ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, class or disability. That's why, we're encouraging members to sign up for our
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training course.
Inclusion is about making sure that everyone has the same opportunities to achieve in life. The perspectives and insight provided by this course may support you and your practice to be more consciously inclusive, considerate and respectful of diversity.
- Availability: BDA members
- Content: Modules, quizzes and short videos
- 4.5 verifiable hours CPD.
Wednesday 12 January 2022
England: Quarter four reports added to Compass
NHS England quarter four delivery reports are now available in the 'Activity' folder on Compass.
They follow the same format as previous reports, with one based on schedule months and one based on calendar months. They include a:
- Breakdown of performer activity
- Count of sedation courses of treatment
- Count of domiciliary visit courses of treatment.
The calendar month report includes any claims made for the financial year 2021/2022 which relate to the period 1 January 2022 to 31 March 2022. The month in which the activity is counted will be based on:
- The treatment completion date; or
- Date of last visit if the patient failed to attend for UDA claims.
For Units of Orthodontic Activity, the report will consider the:
- Date of assessment for Assess and Review, and Refuse
- Date of appliance fitted for case starts
- Date of completion for appliance repairs.
England: Calling for changes to NHS dental contracts
We are acutely aware of the difficulties being experienced across dentistry at the present time in delivering care in the face of the Omicron variant, and have once again raised these issues with NHS England and Health Minister Maria Caulfield.
Last year, we
condemned the NHS England decision to impose these new targets. Shawn Charlwood, General Dental Practice Chair,
wrote to NHS England and we met with them last week to reiterate our anger at the decision to persist with this unjustifiable approach and to seek a change of course. Shawn highlighted the immense damage being done to NHS dentistry and to a profession feeling battered and entirely unsupported. We have also written to Health Minister Maria Caulfield to set out our concerns on the same issue. We hope that NHS England sees sense and adopts a more sympathetic approach.
This week, we will be surveying members in England about a range of issues, including your ability to deliver care in the current circumstances, and potential courses of action that we might take in relation to the future of NHS dentistry. The responses we receive will shape our dealings with NHS England. It is imperative that we get a clear indication of where the profession stands, so please look out for our survey. Your opinion matters.
We will continue to press NHS England and will keep you updated on any developments.
Wales: Respiratory Pathway Risk Assessment updated
Updated guidance has been published for dentists in Wales with additional screening questions added to the risk assessment questionnaire for patients on the respiratory pathway. These additional checks will help dentists to better assess the patient's risk of COVID-19 and determine whether the respiratory or non-respiratory pathway is better suited for care.
Dental careers podcast: Specialty training
Are you interested in going into specialty training?
On our podcast, Chairside: Conversations about careers in dentistry, Andrea Ogden chats with two specialty trainees and covers the questions that students and FDs so often ask, such as:
- When is the best time to do it?
- How difficult is it to apply?
- What other challenges can you take on at the same time?
They discuss academic research, starting a family and what you really need to know before taking the leap into specialty training.
Khadeeja Saeed BDS Manchester 2015: "I've always known about special care but I think, like with many dental students, you hear about the different specialities but until you actually work in the speciality, you don't actually appreciate the kind of work you do."
Payal Sharma-Birch, BDS London 2008: "I get to work with my favourite patient groups, children, and I get to see the transformative effect our work can have on their confidence and their mental health, and I'm very grateful I can be part of that journey".
Spotify or search "Chairside" on your chosen podcast platform.
Scotland: Priority covid testing slots available for essential workers
Essential workers in Scotland have priority when booking COVID test slots, this includes all primary care contractor groups, including dentists (frontline, support and specialist).
Prioritised booking slots are available at all test sites. This can be accessed by clicking to confirm you are an essential worker when booking a test online.
Guidance on COVID testing, including who is eligible for a test, how to get tested and the different types of tests available can be found on the
Tuesday 11 January 2022
BDA Indemnity: Future-proofed protection
At the end of last year, the Government published its response to the recommendations made in the Paterson Inquiry.
The events and issues surrounding Paterson centred on medical surgical care in NHS and private hospitals. However, they have thrown a light on much wider and often complex issues relating to indemnity and the secure and certain protection of both patients receiving care, and the clinicians who are delivering it.
We can reassure you that BDA Indemnity was designed and created to address many of the concerns raised in the Paterson Inquiry, and we look forward to contributing to the promised stakeholder discussions this year.
A piece in this month's
BDJ In Practice provides further insight into this complex issue.
BDJ In Practice: Big Impact Collection
From the continuing ramifications of COVID-19 to declining antibiotic prescribing, the
Big Impact Collection reflects the issues that really matter to practising dentists and are some of the most accessed and shared articles from the last two years.
Online patient review QR code poster available to Good Practice members
It has always been essential for practices to understand and learn from the patient experience. It is, however, not always easy to ask your patients to leave a positive comment on the treatment and service they have received. Why not encourage your patients to leave a positive review?
To make this easier, we have created a
QR code poster
exclusively for our Good Practice members to display. Contact
email@example.com to request a poster specific to your practice.
Scotland: Additional funding to support children's oral health
Deputy Chief Nursing Officer has announced an increase in the number of toothbrushing packs available to health visiting and family nurse teams. Community care teams have been encouraged to liaise with their local
Childsmile colleagues to agree logistical processes to increase distribution.
This follows the previous announcement of
recovery measures which included a package of additional funding to support further Childsmile interventions at national and local level. This includes the distribution of over 400,000 additional toothbrushing packs via health visitors, nurseries and childminders coupled with ongoing education about the benefits of regular toothbrushing. NHS Boards have also been advised they would receive significant allocations of additional packs and Childsmile teams were asked to work closely with new and existing local partners to enhance contacts and offer support.
Monday 10 January 2022
England: The practice is not the place to argue about vaccination
Now that the government has brought in mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers in England, some practices are reporting difficulties.
The overwhelming majority of dentists and dental teams are in favour of vaccination. However, a proportion of dental staff are against the COVID-19 vaccination, some decidedly so. We advise practices to have
open and constructive discussions with staff on this issue, and have provided resources to help, below. However, discussing the efficacy and safety of vaccination, with those who are decidedly against it, may prove difficult.
Mandatory vaccination for healthcare staff is now law in England. From 1 April 2022, staff without medical exemption will need to be vaccinated or the practice will be in breach of regulations and will face enforcement action. Ultimately, you should not feel obliged to argue with staff on the rights or wrongs of a law which govern dental practice. It is not your role to ensure staff give informed consent for a vaccination provided by another medical organisation.
Members can see our advice on the compulsory COVID vaccination and staff management, which includes:
Letter templates are also available to Expert members for the following:
Northern Ireland: Support arrangements for Level II PPE
Dentists in Northern Ireland can continue to claim fees for the use of Level II PPE when using aerosol generating procedures. Payment of Level II PPE at £12 per pack will continue until the end of March, when it will be reviewed.
In the meantime, dental practitioners need to record and justify the use of PPE Level II for each patient visit. You can read the
full memorandum for more information.
Scotland: Revised self-isolation guidance for health and social care staff
The Scottish Government issued
updated self-isolation guidance for health and social care staff last week:
- All positive cases can exit self-isolation on day 7 regardless of vaccination status, if they have a negative LFD on day 6 and day 7 (taken 24 hours apart) and do not have a fever (48 hours)
- Fully vaccinated (two doses and booster dose 14 days prior) contacts (both household and non-household) will be asked to undertake daily LFD tests for seven days and if the LFD tests are negative will not have to isolate
- Unvaccinated contacts (0-2 doses) will be asked to take a PCR test and regardless of result will be asked to isolate for 10 days.
As health and social care workers continue to provide health, care and support to individuals who are often more vulnerable and of higher risk of COVID-19 infection, there will continue to be additional safeguards in place for these settings. These are set out in the latest guidance.
Working for you: 2021 in summary
Your support throughout the pandemic has been more than symbolic; in the face of a unique threat, we have moved forward together and have continued to fight for the profession and to face challenges head on.
Impact report to learn more about how we supported members across the UK in 2021.
Wales: Pay enhancements for NHS staff
The Welsh Government have
agreed to a number of important enhancements to the 3% pay award for NHS Wales staff, announced and implemented last year.
These enhancements are:
- A 1% non-consolidated payment to NHS staff on Agenda for Change bands 1-5 and newly qualified doctors
- An additional day of annual leave for all NHS Wales staff, including CDS dentists, which will be added to the current year and is a recurring benefit and pro-rata for part-time employees
- All NHS staff will be given the option of 'selling back' a portion of any unused annual leave, subject to parameters intended to ensure staff take adequate rest.
We support this proposal and hope it will be a welcome development for our employed Welsh members.
Northern Ireland: Activity thresholds unchanged until 7 March
The Department of Health has said that the current minimum 25% threshold will remain in place for activity until 7 March. A review of thresholds is currently underway, and practitioners will be given one month's notice before any new minimum threshold is introduced.
It is the Department's intention to move support away from the historic 2019/20 Baseline Assessment Year (BAY) to one that is based solely on actual activity, with further details to follow.
It has also been confirmed that payment for Level 2 PPE claims under Item 30 will continue to be made, where the dentist has assessed this is clinically necessary. This approach is to be in place until March 2022.
Finally, the Minister has committed to implementing the 3% recommended DDRB pay uplift for 2021/22 as soon as possible.