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Updates from week commencing 13 December 2021

Read all the updates that took place throughout this week.

Friday 17 December


BDA elections: 2021 winners announced


This year's election results have just been announced. 


They include the following five seats on the BDA Board:

  • Paul Blaylock, Northern 
  • Jonathan Mynors-Wallis, South-West 
  • Paul Woodhouse, UK-wide.  
  • Peter Crooks, Northern Ireland (elected unopposed)
  • Mick Armstrong, Yorkshire and Humber (elected unopposed).

Over 20 other people have also been elected to the General Dental Practice Committee, Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee and the Scottish Dental Practice Committee and the English Council. 


See the full results for more information.


BDJ study highlights impact of media coverage 


It can sometimes seem like dentists rarely get good press coverage. However, according to a study of recent dental coverage across six national newspapers, the quality of information being reported in the early stages of lockdown in 2020 was generally helpful and positive towards the dental profession.

Commenting on the study, BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said: 

"We have worked flat out at every stage of the pandemic to explain the devastating impact it has had on dentistry, from the dentists' perspective, as well as the repercussions for our patients… We highlighted that access problems pre-dated the pandemic, because of the long and troubled history of underfunding of NHS dentistry and we showed the press how this has accelerated oral health inequalities… [This] coverage helped in the process of agreeing a consensus with HealthWatch that investment is needed to improve access, together with the promised reform of NHS dentistry to reverse a decade of cuts. It has also helped our engagement with politicians and to shape well publicised dental debates in parliament."


England: Mandatory vaccination may devastate dental services 

We have warned that the fast-tracked parliamentary approval of mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers is set to have a calamitous impact on dental services already stretched to breaking point. New evidence suggests levels of hesitancy could push thousands out of the workforce. According to a survey of high street dentists in England:   

  • 1 in 10 respondents say they are not fully vaccinated, with 9% reporting they have not had their first jab 
  • Less than two-thirds of respondents believe all dentists operating in their practices are fully vaccinated, with less than half saying the same for dental nurses  
  • Over 30% believe dental nurses based at their practices will leave as a result of the mandate, with nearly 15% of dentists saying they will leave themselves. 

We have long supported the vaccine rollout but have stressed the government must think again about compulsion. The mandate is set to cover all CQC registered health professionals, so will cover dentists and their teams, in both NHS and private settings. 

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch made the potential impact clear: "We now face a grim scenario where thousands of dental team members will walk as result of choices made by government, leaving thousands of vacancies that will never be filled." 


England: NHS dental staff in contact with a COVID-19 case

The NHS has altered its guidance for dentists and staff members who have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 positive case, aligning it to the national guidance. This new guidance removes the advice in relation to household contacts: anyone fully vaccinated and living with a household COVID positive case can return to work, subject to the rules below.

If someone in the dental team comes into contact with a confirmed COVID positive case and:


  • They are not fully vaccinated, they must stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days (unless they are exempt because they are under 18 or unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons – in which case, they should not return to work for the period of time they would be required to self-isolate if they had to)
  • They are fully vaccinated (having received two vaccine doses and being 14 days post second vaccination), they must arrange a PCR test (unless they have had COVID in the past 90 days), stay at home until the result is known and can return to work if it is confirmed negative. 

When returning to work they should complete daily lateral flow tests every morning before work for 10 days. If they do have a subsequent positive lateral flow test, they should arrange another PCR test and stay at home until the result is known and, if that PCR test (in all cases) is positive, the staff member must self-isolate for 10 days.

Outside of this "close contact" guidance, practices are asked to ensure that all staff (even if vaccinated) continue to carry out asymptomatic lateral flow tests twice weekly and report the results (positive or negative) via the Government website.


Wales: The year in review

In her recent blog, Christie Owen shares how we've been helping to keep dentistry front of mind during decision making, leading to greater investment and changes to working practices in Wales. With the end of the year approaching, she looks back at some of our successes and achievements: 

"We stopped the inappropriate claw back of funding from over 20 dental practices this year. These practices were deemed by their health board to have under-performed in fluoride varnish applications earlier in the year. But we met with the Deputy CDOs and collaborated with the LDC to make clear that in-year clawback was not permitted. Subsequently, all affected practices were assured by Swansea Bay that the money would be reimbursed."

Thursday 16 December 2021



Scotland: Dental sites advised not to upgrade to Windows 11


National Services Scotland (NSS) have issued a message to dental sites advising them not to upgrade their computer operating systems to Microsoft Windows 11 at this time. Pop ups have been appearing on systems, encouraging users to accept a free upgrade, but this has been shown to negatively impact and remove some of the links which interface with NHS IT systems.


Access to the Scottish Care Information (SCI) Gateway (the platform facilitating patient referrals between primary and secondary care); Pecos (the online ordering platform for PPE); various practice management systems and Internet Explorer have all been reported as affected. The exact impact on these systems is still not fully understood, therefore NSS have advised users not to upgrade while they investigate. We will keep you updated.





Wales: Dentists face challenging environment 


In September, 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 in early 2022, making a strong case for support to dentists and dentistry. 





Northern Ireland: Pay uplift delays are unacceptable


The delays to the application of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB)'s recommended uplift in Northern Ireland is unacceptable. Once again, the local dysfunctional budgetary process has ensured pay reviews are on track to be paid a whole year late, at odds with the situation in other parts of the UK.


We supplied comprehensive written evidence relating to this pay round to the Pay review body back in January, as well as a subsequent oral submission which included strong representation of the pertinent issues relating to Northern Ireland. Yet we find ourselves in the process of finalising our written evidence for next year's pay round, while the uplift for 21/22 has still not been implemented. We've made clear that there is no excuse for such tardiness and we will continue to apply pressure on these important issues over the coming months.





England: NHS Dental staff in the same household as COVID-19 case


Members are understandably confused about the mixed messages relating to when people are allowed to go to work if they live with a positive COVID-19 case. We are seeking urgent clarification on your behalf. 


In August, an NHS letter set out that a member of an NHS dental (or any other) team "living directly (same household)" with a positive COVID-19 case would be asked not to attend work. This differed from wider Government guidance to the general population at the time. As far as we are aware, that letter has not been rescinded. However, the UK Health Security Agency guidance has now been amended (in particular Section 2.5) where there is no mention of 'household'.


We have sought clarification from the NHS as to whether the letter of 12 August still stands or whether this new guidance superseded it. We understand that a letter clarifying the issues is imminent and will keep you updated.





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.



Wednesday 15 December 2021



Northern Ireland: Dentists included in cancer strategy plans


A blog from Gerry McKenna, Chair of the BDA Hospitals Group for Northern Ireland, outlines how we've been advocating for change, highlighting systemic risks, and influencing government policy to make oral health a vital element of the cancer strategy for Northern Ireland.


His briefing to Stormont's All Party Group on Cancer on the key issues that need to be addressed in the new strategy resulted in Robin Swann, Minister for Health, acknowledging the vital role dentists play in providing screening for oral cancer and including dentists in the strategy.


"It is good to see that our messages on oral cancer have been listened to and understood by senior politicians and the Steering Group Members responsible for the new strategy. One of the strategy's 67 recommendations, is to "raise public awareness of the risk factors and early signs of mouth cancer and the importance of regular dental check-ups for those at increased risk." Our messages are getting through."






Northern Ireland: Patient registrations extended until 31 March


An extension of patient registrations until the end of March 2022 has been confirmed by The Department of Health, Health and Social Care Board and Business Services Organisation.


If the patient registration was originally set to expire between 12 March 2020 and 31 December 2021, these will be extended to at least 31 March 2022. Any registrations that were not due to expire will be extended by an additional three months. As such, any patient who has attended or had their registration updated since 12 March 2018 will remain registered until at least 31 March 2022.


GDS has asked that your practice systems are updated to accommodate this rollover of patient registrations with a general rule of thumb that patients who have attended since 12 March 2018 should remain registered until at least the end of the financial year.





England: Mandatory vaccinations and the meaning of 'patient-facing'


Under the mandatory vaccination requirements, all patient-facing staff are expected to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Members should note that, patient-facing staff – other than clinical staff – might also include anyone who comes into contact with patients or an area where patients gather. 


Each practice will need to determine who their patient-facing staff are based upon building layout and thoroughfare. For example, a receptionist would almost by default fall into this category, while a decontamination nurse who does not enter spaces where patients may be, might not qualify as patient-facing. However, if that nurse travelled through a space where patients may be, they would be considered patient-facing. 


To be exempt from vaccination, the staff member in question must not have direct, face-to-face contact with a patient. An amount of discretion is advised and it will be up to the practice owner to decide. 

See our advice for further information on mandatory vaccination:


Letter templates are also available to Expert members for the following:



Tuesday 14 December 2021



BDA Board elections: Have you posted your ballot?


The BDA Board elections close this Thursday 16 December. If you have not yet returned your ballot by post, please do so as soon as possible, to ensure your vote counts. You can find the full list of candidates on our elections page.


Ballot papers have been delivered to all full members (to the address at which you receive your BDJ). If you have not received a ballot form and are eligible to vote, please email to request a replacement form today. If you have already returned yours, thank you for voting!





Library: 40 hours of verifiable CPD with our eBooks 


If you're looking for something to read over the festive period, why not take a look at our CPD eBook collection and earn up to 40 hours of verifiable CPD at the same time.


Pick from a wide variety of dental subjects from dental anxiety to infection control and orthodontics to endodontics. There are 20 books to choose from and two hours of CPD to be earned on every book.

All members can access. 





Northern Ireland: Staff Recognition Payment letters


For those practices who submitted a Staff Recognition Payment Claim Form and supporting documentation before the deadline, HSCB has confirmed that letters are being posted today, for the attention of practice principals, to confirm payment of SRP claims as part of the December payment run.


For any practices who did not submit a Claim Form and supporting documentation before the deadline, separate letters will be issued to inform of the deadlines for the January 2022 payment run.



Monday 13 December 2021



England: Survey on the pandemic and your working life


NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) is asking for your insights to better understand how the pandemic has impacted your working life, including working patterns and morale. 


This survey gives you an opportunity to share your views on the challenges of the pandemic, and whether the measures put in place by NHSEI and the Department of Health helped you. If you are a dentist working in primary care, either solely for the NHS, in mixed practice, or wholly private practice, please consider responding


The survey is anonymous. The deadline for survey responses is midnight, Sunday 9 January, and the results are due out in spring 2022. 





Scotland: New BDA Fees Guide for GDP Pay Uplift


On 1 December the Scottish Government applied a 3% pay uplift for GDPs. This was the amount recommended in the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB) report for 2021/2022 and will be backdated to 1 April. 


To reflect this change, we have updated our Fees Guide . This is a comprehensive document to assist practices, summarising the most frequently used codes and charges listed within the Statement of Dental Remuneration (SDR).


We have expressed our disappointment that the uplift has not been applied to all allowances. Consequently, we have estimated the true increase is between 2.2-2.3% for GDPs, rather than the full 3%.


We will raise these concerns with the Scottish Government and will detail it within our evidence for the 2022/2023 DDRB submission.





Do you know the advice on PAT testing? 


We recommend portable appliance testing (PAT) should be carried out every three years by a competent person. Alongside this, visual checks should be undertaken regularly, and formal visual inspections of all portable electric appliances should be undertaken yearly by a competent member of the team.


To help with this Good Practice have created an advice sheet and log for their members to use to record these annual inspections. (BDA log-in required).


England: Target timing and Omicron

With less than 13 working days to the end of this quarter, we are yet to see hard details on what is required of NHS dentists in England in Quarter 4.  

Last night, the Prime Minister addressed the nation on the coming "tidal wave" of infection. Already, many members are telling us they are unwilling to ease precautions in light of the new variant.

Now is not the time for unrealistic increases in NHS contractual thresholds.

While dentists have been told they have room for manoeuvre under the new SOP, any 'flexibility' will be limited by blunt and unrealistic targets.

We are continuing to make the case with NHS England and will keep members updated on any developments.


England: Dentists struggling to restore services

Following the latest research from Healthwatch England on the scale of the access crisis in NHS dentistry, new evidence from our members shows the uphill struggle facing practices in the wake of the Omicron variant:

  • 33% of dentists have no intention of relaxing COVID precautions, in line with new protocols issued by NHS England in November
  • 62% say the changes will make little to no difference to the volumes of patients they can treat
  • 62% of practices estimate they are continuing to operate under 70% of their pre-COVID capacity
  • Over half said they are likely to reduce their NHS commitment, with one in 10 saying their practices will close in the next 12 months
  • 72% state the lack of clarity over the government's controversial imposed activity targets are having a high impact on their morale. 

Over 37 million NHS appointments have been lost since lockdown in England alone, over 11 million for children. Yet at this time, not a penny of the government's multi-billion-pound catch-up programme has been allocated to primary care dentistry. We're calling for dentistry to be prioritised to solve the systemic access and morale issues.