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Updates from week commencing 16 November 2020

Read all the updates and what we've been working on during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Friday 20 November 2020



Video round up


BBC Breakfast, UK-wide press and a call for capital investment in dentistry. A lot happened this week so here's my latest video summarising the recent developments in dentistry across the UK.


Useful links:





Using the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace App


Dentists continue to have questions around how to use the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace App while at work.


We have updated our COVID-19 FAQs to answer some of these questions.


We provide help on using the NHS COVID-19 app, how to pause the contact‐tracing function on the app when you are in dental surgeries, if a patient or staff member has COVID-19 as well as a link to the the NHS Test and Trace website for any further questions you may have.





Free visa extension for frontline healthcare workers


Dental practitioners from overseas will form part of more than 6,000 frontline health workers who can have their visas extended for a year, the Home Office has announced today.


Staff and family dependants whose visas are set to expire between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021 can apply for a 12 month extension, free of all fees and charges.


Dentists who are EU, other EEA or Swiss citizens, also have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.





Meeting with Health Minister Jo Churchill


Yesterday, BDA Chair Eddie Crouch met with UK Government Health Minister Jo Churchill. The introductory meeting focused on capital funding for ventilation for NHS and private practices, and also on contractual provisions for NHS practices for the remainder of the current financial year and beyond. The Minister asked for a follow-up meeting in the near future.





Northern Ireland: Further restrictions from next Friday


The Northern Ireland Executive have announced further restrictions to come into force from Friday 27 November 2020. Dental services are included alongside other medical or health services, which are permitted to remain open.





Essential workers


On 4 November, we reported that the CDO England had confirmed that dentists and their teams were regarded as essential workers and therefore qualified for preferential access to virus testing. We said that we would follow up to clarify the status of wholly private practices. Yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that wholly private dentists and their teams were covered by the definition.



Thursday 19 November 2020



In the news this week


We're speaking to national and local media daily to represent you and your interests. Here's some of the coverage we've received this week:


This Monday our data, showing that around 19 million fewer dental treatments were carried out since March compared to the same period last year, continued to make headlines in news bulletins across BBC television and radio.


BDA Chair, Eddie Crouch meanwhile spoke to Eddie Mair on his LBC show this Tuesday. Topics covered included: whether it is safe to go to the dentist, how do people with toothache access emergency care, do the rules differ across the UK and why the BDA wrote to Health Secretary, Matt Hancock.


On Wednesday, we saw BBD Radio Tees and BBC Radio Somerset both quote our data and concern that the country risks facing an oral health crisis.


We will continue to voice your concerns in the media and campaign on your behalf.





Oral cancer: Vigilance is essential for oral cancer detection


This Mouth Cancer Action Month, our dento-legal advisor Dr Jane Merivale, tells us why it is more important than ever that we look for signs of oral cancer in our patients.


“As many as 19 million dental appointments may have been missed during the first lockdown. We have no idea how many cases of mouth cancer will have gone undiagnosed as a result. Now dental practices are working tirelessly to increase their capacity, under-enhanced infection control measures, which is putting dental professionals under immense pressure.”





Raise awareness during Mouth Cancer Action Month


We are encouraging dentists and teams to support the Oral Health Foundation’s Mouth Cancer Action campaign during November, by raising awareness of oral cancers with your patients.


New cases of mouth cancer have risen to a record high of 8,722, which is an increase of 58% compared to ten years ago.


Early detection is the key to improved survival rates for those contracting oral cancers, and we are concerned that mouth cancer referrals have fallen since the beginning of lockdown. We have called on NHS England to share data on referrals for 2020, so we can see the true scale of the problem.


We are also concerned that school closure during the lockdown period have had an impact on the delivery of the HPV vaccination, which can protect against oral cancers. This is the first year the gender-neutral HPV vaccination programme is to include boys, something we lobbied for, and won, in 2018. NHS England have assured us that this programme is still a priority and at least one dose of the vaccine will be offered to all who are eligible.


We continue to campaign to raise awareness of oral cancers and the HPV vaccination and over the course of the next month we will have more content and information to offer you.


In the meantime, we encourage you to:






Northern Ireland: New COVID guidance and funding changes


At this crucial moment in the COVID pandemic, Tristen Kelso reflects on the impact of recent changes to operational guidance and the funding available to dental practices in Northern Ireland.


“It has been a busy and uncertain week for many of us. As Northern Ireland’s Chief Scientific Advisor warned us that further COVID-19 restrictions are likely be recommended before Christmas, dentists have continued to process new operational guidance, while discussions on future funding for Health Service dental practices have continued. Against this backdrop, we’ve been working hard on your behalf.”


“Our message to MLAs is clear… Practices must be given the maximum support possible to enable them to continue to deliver the optimal level of care possible to patients in these difficult circumstances, without arbitrary, unrealistic targets being imposed.”





Antibiotics: Information for your patients


There has been a surge in dental prescriptions for antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic, with access to face-to-face dental care severely limited.


World Antimicrobial Awareness Week

That's why, we’re sharing resources to support you to educate your patients on the dangers of the inappropriate use of antibiotics. This “Antibiotics don’t cure toothache” poster and patient information leaflet may also help you to push back against the pressure to prescribe them, where they are not clinically indicated.


We encourage you to share these resources with your patients in whatever way you feel is appropriate, whether via your social media channels, newsletters, in your practice and across your website. A version for Scottish practices is also available: Scottish poster and Scottish patient leaflet.



Wednesday 18 November 2020



Northern Ireland: CDS enhanced rate direction issued


Today the Department of Health has issued a legal direction confirming a new enhanced rate for Community Dentists of time and a third (1.3). This will apply for any hours worked, during out of hours periods (taken to mean outside of contracted working hours, including evenings, weekends and bank holidays) between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. It is also noted that this will apply, "where appropriate, and by local agreement, Time off In Lieu may be granted in place of payment".


We are extremely disappointed that after 8 months of engagement, the DoH have issued a rate lower than our proposed 1.6 and given no opportunity to provide formal feedback on the decision. Taking into consideration all the work done and efforts made by the CDS during the pandemic we do not feel the rate reflects this or shows a true understanding of the value of our service.


We would invite members to share their views with us by emailing, to inform our formal response to the DoH.





Scotland: New advice for wholly private practices


The Chief Dental Officer and National Clinical Director have issued a joint letter to wholly private practices following the introduction of the five lockdown tiers or protection levels in Scotland from 2 November.


For practices in Level 4 (which has the highest restrictions), the focus of care should be restricted to essential or urgent treatment of clinically diagnosed conditions, where no treatment would have a significant adverse impact on the wellbeing of the patient. No aesthetic procedures or elective treatments should be undertaken in Level 4 areas.


Practices in Levels 0, 1, 2 and 3 can offer a range of treatments and procedures, but must continue to fully adhere to all public health advice. This includes social distancing and the use of PPE and face coverings, which should not be removed unless there are sound clinical reasons to do so.


The letter refers to the financial support available to businesses during COVID-19. We had sought financial support for private dentistry with both the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing. It is disappointing that no specific support was made available.





Clarity needed on PPE supplies in wake of NAO report


We have welcomed the National Audit Office’s latest report on procurement during the COVID pandemic and called for clarity on the long-term supply and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE).


PPE availability was the number one brake on capacity for practices in England when they resumed face to face care in June, and is still cited by more than a third (35%) of practices UK-wide as having a high impact on their ability to increase patient access.


The NAO found that over 8,600 contracts related to government’s response to the pandemic were awarded in the period up to 31 July 2020. These contracts had a value of £18bn. While Ministers placed a stated emphasis on speed, deliverability and technical compliance, the watchdog noted widespread concerns over transparency and lack of appropriate safeguards. Clarity is needed on the long-term supply and distribution of PPE.





Supporting you to audit antibiotic prescribing


Dentists have an important role to play in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. To support you to safeguard antimicrobials during this challenging time, we recommend you download this antibiotic prescribing tool. It is designed to help dentists to do a simple audit of your antibiotic prescribing actions, or do a more comprehensive review of your management of dental infections.


This tool was developed by the Dental Subgroup of ESPAUR, which includes representatives from the BDA, FGDP, ACOM and BASCD. It was designed to be used with the FGDP's Antimicrobial Prescribing for GDPs (available free from the BDA Library for members), to ensure you are prescribing according to the current guidance. It is an MS Excel (.xlsm) spreadsheet, and so we recommend downloading the file to a desktop computer (right-click and 'save as') to use it.





Marking European Antibiotics Awareness Day


This European Antibiotics Awareness Day, we’ve joined with the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) and the Association of Clinical Oral Microbiologists (ACOM) to reiterate that prudent prescribing of antimicrobials can slow down the further development of antimicrobial resistance, and that dental teams have a vital role to play.


The COVID-19 spike in antibiotic prescriptions threatens the phenomenal progress dentists have made in reducing these numbers in recent years. That’s why, we’re calling on dentists to be supported to reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed, so that we can return to the progress that was underway before the outbreak of COVID-19.


We’ve asked government to commit to properly funded urgent care slots to reduce the need for antibiotics prescriptions. We’ve also set out our case for capital funding for practices to deliver the ventilation systems that can reduce fallow time and expand access. E-prescribing would help us to monitor dental antibiotic prescribing. Concrete steps like these are needed to support the fight against antimicrobial resistance.





New BDA President elected at AGM


Last night we held our first ever online AGM. This saw members come together to consider the BDA’s accounts, changes to its articles and to elect Professor Elizabeth Kay to be the next President of the Association.
Professor Kay’s impressive career has been marked by enthusiasm, concern for colleagues and a determination to improve the care patients receive. She graduated from Edinburgh in 1982 and proceeded to gain a Masters and PhD from Glasgow. She was then employed as a Senior Lecturer at Dundee and Manchester, gaining her specialty qualification in Dental Public Health in 1994.

She was later appointed the inaugural Dean of the then new Peninsula Dental School. Since then she has been Foundation Dean and the Medical, Dental and Biological Sciences Faculty Associate Dean and all the while Professor of Dental Public Health. Her pioneering work at Peninsula, saw her devise and deliver a curriculum that placed excellence in primary care at its centre, and impacted dental education across the country.


She also undertakes substantial research and publishes widely, being in receipt of over £2.65m in research and community development funding and having published six books and more than 200 articles and papers. She is currently Editor of Evidence Based Dentistry, the BDJ’S sister publication and a Non-Executive Director of an NHS Acute Trust. Her overall contribution to the profession has also been recognised with the award of an MBE, as well as a Fellowship at the Faculty of General Dental Practice.





It's Blue Wednesday


Today is Blue Wednesday and is a key date for the Oral Health Foundation's Mouth Cancer Awareness Month.


Today, the OHF are asking you to join their call to action that a self-check for mouth cancer takes 45 seconds and can save your life.


The aim is to get people into the habit of visually examining themselves for mouth cancers and to make an appointment if they spot anything out of the ordinary. As the pandemic has taken its toll on practice capacity and public access, it is more important than ever that we help the OHF share their messages for oral health at home.


The OHF website has new materials for to you share online and in your practice. Help them spread the message this Mouth Cancer Action Month and hopefully begin to tackle this devastating illness.



Tuesday 17 November 2020



MPs call on the Government to help dentists with ventilation costs 


Today in the House of Commons Rosie Cooper MP, who sits on the Health and Social Care Committee, challenged Ministers on the impact of fallow time and called on the Government to provide capital grants to help dental practices buy high-capacity ventilation equipment. Following our letter to the Secretary of State for Health on this issue yesterday, Ms Cooper stressed the role dentists play in early diagnosis of mouth cancer and urged the Ministers to help increase dental capacity.


Dr Philippa Whitford, the SNP Health Spokesperson, also called on the Government to remove VAT from ventilation and air purification systems to make them more affordable.


Jo Churchill MP, the Health Minister responsible for dentistry, said that the Government was working to address the challenge of fallow time and looking at the issue of ventilation, as well as specific testing solutions for dentistry. She said she would discuss these issues with BDA Chair Eddie Crouch when they meet later this week. We will continue to update you on our work on your behalf in Parliament.





Antimicrobial resistance and COVID-19


Prescriptions for antibiotics spiked during the first phase of the pandemic. In England, 25% more prescriptions for antibiotics were issued between April and July 2020 than in the same period last year, and in London there was a 60% increase. While in Northern Ireland, there was a 64% increase in prescriptions for antimicrobials between February and its peak June in this year.


That's why, this World Antibiotics Awareness Week, Dr Susie Sanderson is taking stock and asking how dentists can get back to making progress in the fight against antimicrobial resistance:


"With the first wave of the pandemic behind us, higher stocks of PPE in our surgeries and more comprehensive guidance in place, I believe it is time for dentists to prioritise antimicrobial resistance once again. Let's get back to business as usual in terms of antibiotics, even if the reality of our lives and in our dental surgeries continues to be far from normal."





Webinar: Dental materials and COVID-19


Book your place for our up-coming webinar on dental materials and COVID-19 today. It will take place on Thursday 26 November at 19.30 - 20.30. Members can attend for free, non-members can attend for £50 and DCPs for £30. The webinar will:


  • Help you understand the value of choosing the correct, high-quality material for a given clinical situation
  • Outline the latest information on bonding to dentine and the survival of resin composite materials
  • Evaluate which restoration types may adversely affect the lifespan of the restored tooth.





NHS COVID-19 app glitch


Users of the NHS COVID-19 app are currently experiencing issues with the app. Some users have deleted and reinstalled the app to fix the fault, but that deletes useful information, including the log of venues the user has checked into via QR barcode scans.


If your NHS COVID-19 app is stuck on the blue loading screen when you open it, there are two recommended ways of trying to fix this problem. Firstly, it is recommended that users have the most up-to-date version of Apple's iOS operating system downloaded and installed. Secondly, the NHS is asking users with this issue to reset their iPhone's location and privacy settings. You should note that carrying out the reset prevents all apps on the handset from using the device's location until they are granted permission again.





Oral cancer awareness - join Blue Wednesday


Tomorrow, Wednesday 18 November is Blue Wednesday and is a key date for the Oral Health Foundation's Mouth Cancer Awareness Month.


On Wednesday, the OHF are asking you to join their call to action that a self-check for mouth cancer takes 45 seconds and can save your life.


The aim is to get people into the habit of visually examining themselves for mouth cancers and to make an appointment if they spot anything out of the ordinary. As the pandemic has taken its toll on practice capacity and public access, it is more important than ever that we help the OHF share their messages for oral health at home.


The OHF website has new materials for to you share online and in your practice. Help them spread the message this Mouth Cancer Action Month and hopefully begin to tackle this devastating illness.





England: 19 million missed dental treatments - BDA Chair on BBC Breakfast


A package of urgent capital funding for practices is the only hope we have of restoring routine services to millions of patients across the UK. In an open letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and raised with each devolved government, we have set out the case for urgent support.


This call follows data from our recent survey of UK practices which found:


  • 70% of practices are operating at less than half their pre-pandemic capacity
  • The number one barrier to increasing capacity is ‘fallow time’ with 88% of practices reporting it as a major obstacle.
  • While new regulations may enable practices to slash their fallow time, 57% of practices lack the funds to invest in the new equipment required to do so.
  • At present 55% of practices estimate they are able to maintain their financial sustainability for 12 months or less.

We estimate that since the March lockdown in England nearly 19 million fewer treatments were delivered compared to the same period last year. This deepens our concern about widening inequality, as patients face poorer outcomes given the huge barriers to early detection of conditions from decay and gum disease through to oral cancer.


Our Chair Eddie Crouch appeared on BBC Breakfast yesterday morning to highlight our concern that 19 million dental treatments have been missed in England since March.



Monday 16 November 2020



Northern Ireland: Financial Support Scheme extended 


Today the Department of Health in Northern Ireland have confirmed that the Financial Support Scheme will be extended for another month, for the November-December payment cycle. The abatement factor will not apply, subject again to the current conditions of the scheme being met.


We are pleased to see this, but we are also looking ahead. We continue to engage with the Department of Health regarding how the Financial Support Scheme will operate from January to March 2021, and to campaign on behalf of dentists in private practice. We will update you when further progress is made.





New blog: Capital funding: The way forward on fallow time


Across the UK, nearly 70% of practices are still running at less than half their pre-pandemic capacity. In order to tackle this issue practices need capital investment.


In his new blog, our Chair Eddie Crouch, outlines why government support is the key to reducing fallow time and getting millions of patients back through dentists' doors.


"On paper we have a chance to restore services to millions, but without support from Government it won’t translate into better access for our patients."


Read Eddie Crouch's blog: Capital funding: The way forward on fallow time.





Oral cancer CPD and toolkit

Improve your knowledge of the prevention and detection of oral cancer, including what to look out for and when and how to respond.


This CPD quiz complements the Oral Cancer Recognition Toolkit, developed in partnership with Cancer Research UK and accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners. The comprehensive toolkit includes a detailed image library, a referral guide, case studies and oral examination videos. (3hrs verifiable CPD.)





England: 19 million missed dental treatments - BDA Chair on BBC Breakfast


BDA Chair Eddie Crouch appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning to highlight our concern that 19 million dental treatments have been missed in England since March.


This follows our announcement today telling the Department of Health and Social Care and all devolved administrations that a package of capital funding now offers the only hope of restoring routine services to millions of patients, as a new survey indicates a service in crisis is incapable of delivering investment to meet new rules that could boost access.


BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said: “Ministers have a choice. Make an investment that would pay for itself and bring millions back through our doors, or leave patients waiting for the care they need.”


Our story was also featured on this morning's Radio 4 Today programme - listen again at 2:05.