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Updates from week commencing 18 October 2021

Read all the updates that took place throughout this week.

Friday 22 October 2021



Nominate yourself for a committee seat


There are only three more days left to nominate yourself for a place on our Board, Councils or Committees. It will only take a few minutes to fill out the form and write a short piece about yourself (max 400 words). The deadline is noon on Monday, 25 October, so don’t delay!


The following seats are open on our Board:


  • UK wide
  • Northern Ireland
  • Yorkshire and Humber
  • South-West England
  • Northern England

There are also Council seats for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The following Committees have open seats:


  • Armed Forces
  • Community/salaried dentistry
  • Dental Public Health
  • General Practice
  • Hospital Dentistry
  • University, Research and Academia.





Northern Ireland: Ministerial commitment to new GDS contract


Yesterday, the Health Minister confirmed to us his commitment to reforming the GDS, and the decision to move forward with the work to establish a new GDS contract.


In a joint statement Minister Robin Swann has acknowledged the significant impact the pandemic has had on dentists and their teams, as well as the financial pressures in continuing to provide Health Service dentistry. He has also stated his intention to legislate to change the frequency of RQIA inspections, and accepted the need to reinstate emergency provision for unregistered patients.


Richard Graham, Chair of the NI Dental Practice Committee, has said: “The Minister has listened to the profession’s concerns. He has now said publicly he wants to work with us to ensure the much-needed reform of Health Service dentistry in Northern Ireland is carried out in order to make the GDS truly sustainable in providing oral care for future generations. I’m proud that the collective efforts of our profession, and the professionalism of the BDA team has resulted in this positive outcome.”





England: CQC report highlights tsunami of unmet need


Today's CQC State of Care report highlights major issues with NHS dental services that have been compounded by the pandemic. Inspectors particularly noted problems among children and young people had in accessing routine dental care during the COVID crisis.


The CQC has presented four key questions that dentistry must address:


  • How will confidence be restored that access to NHS dental services is available for everyone?
  • What measures need to be taken to prioritise and improve access to urgent dental care through NHS 111?
  • Is there enough NHS dental capacity commissioned, and how will NHS policy leaders and commissioners deal with the demand to ensure those who are vulnerable and without a dentist have equality of access to NHS care?
  • With a move to system working and joined-up working in a place, how will oral health be seen as an integral part, providing access to the right service, in the right place, first time?


This report underlines our call for joint call with Healthwatch for financial support from the Treasury. There wasn't enough NHS dentistry to go round before the pandemic. These questions can only be answered by officials holding the purse strings.





Scotland: Support growing for Government to change course


Opposition parties have joined our calls for change following our warning that a return to pre-COVID models of care could have a devastating impact on the service in Scotland.


Jackie Baillie of Scottish Labour called on Cabinet Secretary Humza Yousaf to “think twice and heed the calls of our hard-pressed NHS dentists.” She said: “NHS dental services remain under incredible strain... For the government to remove support before practices are back on their feet is dangerous and damaging."


Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Alex Cole-Hamilton accused the Scottish Government of “dropping the ball” on dentistry: “Instead of listening to the recommendations of those dentists who have been working through the pandemic, the health secretary gave them inadequate solutions, that will see dentists and patients alike suffer... We are still in a pandemic and there is a real risk that removing support may lead more practitioners to leave the NHS.”


We will continue to engage with both the Scottish Government and the opposition to secure a sustainable way forward for members in Scotland.





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. HSCB will issue a further update in December. We will keep you updated.



Thursday 21 October 2021



England: Momentum for change in Parliament


Pressure is building in Parliament for real change in the way NHS dentistry is delivered in England. Last night, the newly appointed Minister responsible for primary care Maria Caulfield MP had her first opportunity to address the challenges facing members in a short debate on access to NHS dentistry.


Ms Caulfield said dental services have too often been an “afterthought” and she was keen to give dentistry a “louder voice”, putting it on a par with GP provision and pushing it up the agenda. She reiterated the Government’s commitment to contract reform, saying she wanted “to see a contract that is attractive for professionals and that ensures equality of access for all” and said she would consider what support could be given to practices to improve ventilation.





Scotland: Tackling abuse of dental staff


Following alarming reports from dentists about the growing instances of verbal and physical abuse from some patients towards dental teams, we have urged the Scottish Government to address the problem.


In the coming weeks, the Government will roll out a “Respect” campaign to stress how unacceptable and aggressive behaviour from members of the public impacts the personal safety, mental health and output of healthcare workers, including dental staff.


This will be a toolkit containing: a film, posters and social media artwork. Dental practices are encouraged to use the posters in their waiting rooms or add them to their website and social media, along with the film. We will continue to speak out on this important issue.





Scotland: Emergency support withdrawn


Cabinet Secretary Humza Yousaf has written today to every NHS dental team in Scotland, indicating that all emergency support will be withdrawn by 1 April 2022. Since the first lockdown NHS practices have operated under a COVID support package, reflecting pandemic pressures and tight restrictions that continue to limit capacity across the service. We have warned that plans to return NHS practices in Scotland to the pre-COVID funding model could devastate dental services across the country.


This move will only raise patient expectations while pushing NHS colleagues into the private sector or out of dentistry altogether. The SNP committed to delivering free NHS care for all in Scotland in the recent election. We have stressed that this approach runs counter to that vision, and that real focus and energy must be applied to developing a new, sustainable model for delivering care.


David McColl, Chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee said: “The Scottish Government seems set to pull the rug out from under every dedicated NHS dentist. To signal the return of a ‘business as usual’ model when the country is still in the grip of a pandemic is utterly reckless. The net result will be to push colleagues out of the NHS and to leave this profession altogether.”





Wales: Deadline approaches for mental health survey


There’s only five days left to take part in our mental health survey, which looks at how the last six months of the pandemic has affected the profession in Wales. Please consider taking part by Monday 25 October 2021, whether you feel the pandemic has or hasn't affected your mental health. Your opinions will help us to improve the mental health provision for dentists working in Wales.


This work follows on from a survey that we sent out in January 2021 which addressed the extent to which dentists felt their mental health had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of this survey have been published in BDJ In Practice, with a full research paper to be published in the BDJ later this year. The results have also been presented at the CDS Joint Forum and the Welsh Dental Committee.





England: Standing together for change


In a recent blog, Chair of the BDA Board Eddie Crouch tells us about the dental care protests he recently attended in Suffolk. He outlines why dentists are protesting and why it's so urgent:


“Over 150 people gathered in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday to protest the crisis facing dental care. I was proud to stand with them, together with colleagues from the region, in common cause… From failed contracts to underfunding, patients and dentists are now speaking with one voice on the need for change.”






BDA and Healthwatch press Chancellor to reverse cuts


Together with patient champions Healthwatch England, we have called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use the coming Spending Review to guarantee the future of NHS dentistry.


In an open letter, highlighting the impact on patient care of a decade of cuts and over 30 million lost appointments since the first lockdown, we have called for investment to underpin the recovery and the promised reform of NHS dentistry.


We have warned NHS dentistry is at risk of collapse and urged the Government to use the Spending Review to provide vital investment. Sir Robert Francis QC, chair of Healthwatch England, has said:


"Every part of the country is facing a dental care crisis, with NHS dentistry at risk of vanishing into the void. The Government needs to use the forthcoming Spending Review to provide vital investment in services like dentistry that help keep us all healthy and ensure we build back better for current and future generations.”



Wednesday 20 October 2021



Northern Ireland: How to access COVID booster jabs


COVID-19 booster vaccinations for dental practice staff will be provided by community pharmacies in Northern Ireland. So far, 225 community pharmacies have signed up for the scheme and you will receive information on the details of participating pharmacies by the end of this week.


To obtain your booster jab, you will need to bring a letter of eligibility and photo ID to a participating community pharmacy. There are two different letters of eligibility - one for GDPs and another for all other dental staff who are eligible. Please note, the GDP letter requires you to put in your practice address/stamp and insert your own name, and it can only be used by GDPs.


Unsure if you are eligible? Patricia Donnelly, Head of the NI COVID-19 vaccination programme, has explained which healthcare workers meet the Green book definition of a frontline HSCW and are therefore entitled to receive a COVID-19 booster.





Wales: Join an open meeting


Register now to sign up for the upcoming open meeting of the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee (WGDPC) on 4 November. It will include an update on ongoing work and challenges from Russell Gidney, Chair of the WGDPC. You'll also hear about the experiences of how three practices have adapted their practices to work under the NHS recovery plans in Wales. Sign up for the chance to ask questions of the committee, raise challenges in your area and share ideas for recovery and reform.





Dental politics: Building something from nothing


In her recent blog, associate dentist and BDA Scottish Council member, Carly Fraser explains how representation at a local level can have a huge impact on you and your profession.


Her experience of getting involved in dental politics – where there had recently been no dental representation at all – is a great demonstration of the good it can do, for you as an individual and your community:


“For a long time there was no representation for dentists in our area, and dentists here didn’t have the same access to resources that dentists in other areas of the UK enjoyed. I got involved to help out, and it’s since taught me so much about my area of dentistry, introduced me to a huge number of people and given me a keener understanding of the issues facing dentists in Scotland.”






Dental students: Have your say


The BDA Benevolent Fund is looking to learn more about dental students and needs your help. If you are a student, please take part in their survey on financial and wellbeing issues and encourage others to do so.


Before the pandemic less than 10% applications to the BDA Benevolent Fund were from dental students. This increased massively during the pandemic and now 45% of applications have been from students.


This survey will help the BDA Benevolent Fund to further support students. It will take you 10-15 minutes to complete.



Tuesday 19 October 2021



Advice: NHS England third quarter contracts


Our advice team have put together a video outlining what you need to know about NHS England's third quarter contracts:



All members can access this advice by signing in, and if you're not a member you can join to access this advice today.





Northern Ireland: £500 COVID payment coming soon


The Health and Social Care Board have said that they are planning to begin to roll out the COVID recognition payments to staff from 1 November, with 23 December a potential date for payment to contractors.


We have been pushing for this for some time, including our recent letter to the Minister calling for a definitive timescale to be established, and engagement with the Health committee. A defined process has been developed to support the payments to contractors – including a template, guidance and employee fact sheet. This process has been piloted with some contractors.


HSCB is asking that contractors submit their template on time and in line with the deadlines. Training will take place on 3 and 4 November, further detail to follow.





Benevolent Fund: London marathon fundraiser a huge success


Five runners ran the Virgin Money London Marathon for the BDA Benevolent Fund recently and collectively raised over £9,000, including gift aid contributions.


Laura Hannon, General Manager, has thanked the five runners, all of whom completed the 26 mile challenge, saying:


“A huge thank you to Ronan, Rob, Helen, Craig, and Zayd for all their hard work and a very big thank you to everyone who donated throughout the campaign.”


“The marathon runners did a fantastic job, raising funds for the charity, but equally as important – raising awareness of the work the charity does to support dental students, dentists and their families.”


Funds raised will be used to offer essential support for living costs such as rent and bills to dental students, dentists, and their families. If you would like to know more, visit the BDA Benevolent Fund website.





Nominate yourself for a committee seat


Only six more days left to nominate yourself for a place on our Board, Councils or Committees. It will only take a few minutes to fill out the form and write a short piece about yourself (max 400 words). The deadline is noon next Monday, 25 October, so don’t delay!


The following seats are open on our Board:


  • UK wide
  • Northern Ireland
  • Yorkshire and Humber
  • South-West England
  • Northern England

There are also Council seats for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The following Committees have open seats:


  • Armed Forces
  • Community/salaried dentistry
  • Dental Public Health
  • General Practice
  • Hospital Dentistry
  • University, Research and Academia.





Government U-turn on use of dental age checks


In response to pressure we applied, the Home Office is reported to have abandoned their plans to introduce dental X-rays as a way of determining the age of undocumented migrants.


We have vigorously opposed the use of dental X-rays to determine whether asylum seekers have reached the age of 18, as they are inaccurate and unethical. Following our criticism, the Government is now understood to have dropped their plans to use dental X-rays for this purpose. However, it is expected that imminent government amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill on this issue will still give the Home Office the power to define what scientific methods of age assessment could be used in subsequent regulations. We will therefore continue our campaign and seek amendments which would definitively rule out radiographic age tests once and for all.


Reacting to the Government U-turn, BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said: “It’s welcome news that Ministers appear to have ruled out dental checks on migrants that fail basic tests on accuracy and ethics. But new laws will give the Government power to define what constitutes a robust measure of age. Dentists do not want to see pseudo-science make a return via the back door.”



Monday 18 October 2021



Scotland: Supporting Mouth Cancer Action Month


We will once again be supporting the Oral Health Foundation's Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign in November.


In our aim to help promote the campaign, we are encouraging dentists and their teams to raise awareness of oral cancers with their patients. To aid with this we have produced a resource pack for dentists and dental care professionals which includes:


  • advice on how to carry out an examination of the mouth, oropharynx and neck for cancer
  • what lesions to refer
  • an up-to-date guide on how to access OMFS services.

This work builds on our existing oral cancer campaign, including publication of our Oral Cancer Action Plan.





Scotland: Ventilation Improvement Allowance FAQs


The Scottish Government have produced a document answering frequently asked questions about the Ventilation Improvement Allowance which was announced in June.


The FAQs are intended to help answer practitioners' queries and provide clarity on areas such as:

  • The requirement for practitioners to provide NHS GDS for a further three years
  • The circumstances where portable measures, such as air scrubbers, are eligible, among other essential information.

Download the Ventilation Improvement Allowance FAQs





England: Free flu jabs for NHS dental teams


NHS England has said that NHS dental teams will be eligible for the NHS flu programme this year. Chief Dental Officer, Sara Hurley, has encouraged all dentists to take up this new offer for their own safety and our patients.


This is welcome news, and not before time. We are pressing for this to be a permanent arrangement, not a one-off.


Who is eligible?

Staff employed by primary care contractors and involved in the frontline provision of primary care services, including non-clinical staff directly who have face-to-face contact with patients.


Who is not eligible?

Any non-clinical staff not directly involved with the provision of NHS services on a day-to-day basis or do not have face-to-face contact with patients are not eligible. Primary care contractors and their frontline staff who provide private services only are also not eligible. Staff who work in private practices can be offered flu vaccination paid for by their employer under their occupational health responsibilities.





How and why to celebrate Black History Month


October is Black History Month and our partners at Health Assured have outlined why your practice should celebrate it and how to get it right. This includes tips to help you become an anti-racist organisation, one of which encourages education and training.


This could include, signing up for our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training course. The perspectives and insight provided by this course may support you and your practice to be more consciously inclusive, considerate and respectful of diversity.