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Updates from week commencing 21 June 2021

Read all the updates that took place throughout this week.

Friday 25 June 2021



BDA Benevolent Fund: London marathon 2021


On October 3, 100,000 people will be taking part in the biggest marathon ever staged in the world, by running in London and all over the country. We're pleased to see dentists and a dental student are taking part to fundraise on behalf of the BDA Benevolent Fund, a charity supporting dentists and dental students living in the UK who are in financial hardship.


Find out more about these runners and how you can support this worthy cause:


“This is my first marathon and every penny that anybody donates will be hugely appreciated by me and the charity I am supporting.” – Dr Helen Reddington


“I can't wait to get going with training in full flow and I look forward to all your help and support in sponsoring me for what is a fantastic cause and organisation!” - Dr. Zayd Rawoot


“I am a dental student currently studying at King's College London... I would appreciate your help in raising some money for such an amazing charity.” - Ronan Lee





Right to work checks from 1 July


The government has issued new guidance on checks that employers need to undertake from 1 July 2021.


There is also new guidance for EU/EEA and Swiss nationals who have received their status under the EU Settlement Scheme.


We would advise dentists and their team members to consider the information and raise awareness amongst their contacts.





Northern Ireland: Financial support and the road ahead


Richard Graham, Chair of the Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, takes a moment to reflect on financial support measures, future prospects for dentistry and how far we’ve come in the last 15 months, in a recent blog.


"When the pandemic closed dental practices last March, I don't think that anyone thought we would still be so badly affected 15 months on. Dental practitioners are still severely restricted in the amount of work they can do and our teams are still working under extreme physical and mental stress. So, what’s on the road ahead?"






Racism in dentistry: Denial is not an option


In a recent blog Eddie Crouch, Chair of the BDA Board, takes a first look at the results from our racism survey, which show evidence of both racism and denial in dentistry:


"I have had the chance to look at some of the data and troubling accounts of personal experiences of discrimination faced by our colleagues stand out. It’s clear that we still face a significant problem with racism within dentistry... [But] there were also comments from other respondents, who had not personally seen or experienced discrimination and therefore insisted that it did not exist.


"I’m proud that we have made equality, diversity and inclusion a priority area currently for the BDA. We have started a programme of work under our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, led by Shareena Ilyas and Laura Cross. The racism survey is just the start of that."




Thursday 24 June 2021



Restrictions to junk food advertising


The UK Government has decided to introduce a 9pm TV watershed and a restriction on paid-for advertising online for junk foods from 2023. We have long campaigned for radical action to lower people's sugar intake to help prevent tooth decay, including action on TV advertising and marketing.


The measures will fall short of the total ban proposed last year. For example, brand-only advertising online and on TV will continue to be allowed. A company often associated with poor dietary habits, such as McDonald's, will still be able to advertise if no high in fat, salt and sugar products appear. Brands may also continue to promote their products on their own websites and social media accounts.


Products that aren't considered as traditional 'junk food' such as honey and jam will not be banned, and zero-sugar drinks will not be included. We have previously warned that even diet versions of fizzy drinks are more acidic than lemon juice or vinegar and are helping to fuel an epidemic of dental erosion.


We continue to work with obesity campaigners on common messages, and to highlight that tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions for young children.





Dental regulation - where are we now?


A major consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has just closed. This was aimed at setting out a blueprint for the UK’s health regulators, and it looked at governance arrangements, registration, education/standards and fitness to practise.


The intention is to allow regulators more flexibility to adjust to a changing world, but what is this likely to mean for dentists and dentistry? Shareena Ilyas's recent blog takes a look at where we are now, and what's promising and concerning for dentistry.






Wales: Letter to new Health Minister


The three chairs of the Welsh committees wrote earlier in the month to the new Health Minister Baroness Morgan, highlighting the many issues dental teams are facing in Wales.


We explained that the pandemic has had a drastic impact on patient throughput and that high street dental practices are focussing on NHS patients with the highest needs. We also highlighted the working conditions the pandemic has necessitated and the adverse impacts these are having on dentists and their colleagues, including wearing enhanced PPE.  We did, however, welcome the ongoing suspension of arbitrary targets and the opportunity to develop meaningful expectations around prevention measures.


We highlighted the past success of Designed to Smile and called on the Minister to support the reopening of the scheme and to consider increasing the funding to make it available to more children, particularly those in the lower socioeconomic centiles. We also raised concerns about the need for greater funding for oral health support in the older population and that the community domiciliary service needed reviewing and reinvigorating. We look forward to working productively with the new Health Minister and understand our letter was received well.





Amalgam: A phase-down rather than a phase-out


We continue to lobby for a phase-down of dental amalgam in dentistry in the EU, rather than the proposed phase-out by 2030. A phase-out in the EU would affect dental amalgam supply chains and prices in the UK.


We are particularly concerned about the impact for dentistry in Northern Ireland, as under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, it will have to continue to follow EU legislation. We’ve said that a phase-out date of 2030 - or earlier - could potentially destabilise health systems that are already under considerable strain in the wake of the COVID pandemic, and increase oral health inequalities.


Dentists throughout the UK and EU are already taking their environmental responsibilities seriously and making good progress on reducing dental amalgam use. That's why, we have helped the Council of European Dentists (CED) to develop a fact sheet and template letter to help dental associations lobby their national health and environmental ministries make the case for the phase-down, rather than a phase-out.



Wednesday 23 June 2021



Scotland: Concerns about new maternity payment system


The Scottish Government has advised of changes to the calculation of maternity, paternity and adoptive leave payments, and to long-term sickness payments.


We had raised concerns that some dentists were being financially disadvantaged because the “test period” for calculating these payments was increasingly based on the COVID support payments (85% of pre-pandemic gross Item of Service). Under the new arrangements, a “test period” will no longer be used. Instead, flat-rate payments will be applied and pro-rated by each contractor's WTE hours and NHS commitment level.


However, while the new maternity payment system is benefiting some dentists, others are reporting that it will leave them worse off financially. That's why we are now collating examples of how the new arrangements are negatively impacting some dentists, and we will present this information to the Scottish Government. We will keep you posted on developments.





Scotland: Updated guidance on antimicrobial prescribing


The Chief Dental Officer wrote to NHS dental practices this week advising he had accepted changes to guidance on antimicrobial prescribing following recommendations made by the dental sub-group of the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG-D).


The first update was that the first line management of acute dental conditions should be clinical management and not antibiotic prescribing, as face-to-face dental treatment has remobilised. The second update was that phenoxymethylpenicillin (Pen V) should be the first line drug, where an antibiotic must be prescribed.


Although we are supportive of the CDO’s overall stance, we have made clear that due to the current restrictions on ventilation and fallow time, it is important to be mindful that GDPs are still limited in the number of appointments they can provide per day for aerosol generating procedures. In 2020, the BDA co-signed an open letter on prescribing antibiotics during the COVID pandemic.





EU Settlement Scheme and the end of the grace period: 30 June 2021


EU, other EEA and Swiss citizens, and their family members have seven days to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.


The free scheme enables EEA and Swiss citizens resident in the UK by the end of the transition period, and their family members, to obtain the status they will require in order to live and work in the UK. Applicants have until 30 June 2021 and only need to complete three key steps – prove their identity, show that that they live in the UK, and declare any criminal convictions.


The Home Office is hosting a number of sessions covering: who needs to apply, settled/pre-settled status, late applications, right to work checks and support for EU Nationals. You can sign up to one of these sessions using the registration links below:


Today at 13:10

25 June 2021 at 13:00

29 June 2021 at 09:30

30 June 2021 at 13:00



Tuesday 22 June 2021



UK vaccination rates: Can dentists help?


NHS figures show that vaccination rates, while encouragingly high overall, continue to vary significantly between communities in the UK.


At present, people identifying either as Black British or as Mixed White and Caribbean have the lowest vaccination rates. Among over 50s these stand at 67.2% and 71.4% respectively and among the over 16s these are just 39.2% and 37.9%. This is low in comparison to other groups, particularly in comparison to those identifying as White British, which come in at 95.1% of over 50s and 75.6% of over 16s.


In March this year, dental student and volunteer vaccinator, Mustafa Nawaz Khan told us his story about becoming a vaccinator and what dentists can do to help tackle vaccine misinformation and help engage all communities. Reflecting on these new statistics and what dentists can do, he's said:


"I'm pleased to see high rates across many communities. But we're clearly still got a lot more to do! Your patients likely know you better than they know their doctor, so if you can please do make the time to speak about your own experience, this could make all the difference.


"I saw this in action recently, when my practice held a walk-in clinic at the Tottenham Hotspurs' stadium. We vaccinated over 4,000 people and more than one patient mentioned that their dentist had spoken to them about vaccination during a check-up!"





Northern Ireland: Letter on financial support for GDPs


On Friday, the department sent a letter to all GDPs in Northern Ireland about financial support. The letter states that discussions are ongoing with the BDA on how to provide financial support for the rest of the financial year and suggests that we can expect an update in the coming weeks.

Other issues outlined include the 2020/21 SDR uplift, with arrears due to GDPs from April 2020 - July 2021 to be paid in July. Work on the £500 dental staff recognition payments is ongoing. The letter refers to the establishment of a GDS Rebuilding Stakeholder Group which as well as addressing immediate issues, will have a forward look to rebuilding General Dental Services.


We will continue to update you.





Northern Ireland: New figures show need for action


We are calling for further action to ensure Health Service dentistry can recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic as new figures reveal the full extent of the collapse in attendance.


The General Dental Services Statistics for 2020/21 show the volumes of dentistry delivered since April 2020 were less than a third of usual levels, with over 3 million fewer treatments delivered to adults and children.  Just 40% of patients were seen compared to the previous year, with over 440,000 fewer adults and nearly 70,000 fewer children.


With an election now looming, we're calling on all parties to pledge to deliver a three-pronged approach to guarantee that Health Service dentistry in Northern Ireland can survive the impact of the pandemic:


  • A new Oral Health Strategy aimed at delivering improved outcomes for the population and reducing oral health inequalities.
  • Work to begin on a new General Dental Services (GDS) contract to safeguard a future for Health Service dentistry.
  • Provide needed capacity at the Department of Health to be able to progress the major reforms needed in dentistry.



Monday 21 June 2021



Dentists called to support survivors of domestic abuse


​A new campaign is calling for dentists to provide pro bono treatment to survivors of domestic abuse.

In a new blog, Dr Sonia Joshi she tells us why she's involved and what the proposed dentistry directory can achieve.


“During my twenty years in the profession, I’ve seen dentistry come a long way in its understanding and provision of care for highly vulnerable patients who have suffered from situations of domestic abuse. But there is much still to be done.


“The idea for a registry of dentists willing to provide pro bono services started during lockdown. On social media, I saw a request from Rachel Williams, the founder of Stand Up to Domestic Abuse, asking for dental care for a survivor of domestic abuse and I contacted her to see how dentists could support these patients. Since then, the idea of a registry has taken off.”






Dentists and oral cancer: An essential, not ad hoc role


Many members have expressed concern over recent comments from Minister Jo Churchill, describing dentists as playing an 'ad hoc' role in oral cancer detection.


Systematic reviews indicate around 30% of oral cancer referrals come from GDPs, and we know the volume of referrals has increased almost fourfold in the years leading up to the COVID pandemic.


We have long stated the facts - that dentists are on the frontline in the battle against this terrible disease and are ideally placed to detect lesions at an early stage.


And we were pleased to see both Sara Hurley and Peter Johnson NHS National Clinical Director for Cancer adopt the same position in NHS England's May bulletin:


“Dental professionals are on the frontline in the fight against mouth cancer. Your clinical judgment is invaluable in spotting this disease early and so saving lives.”


We will be raising this directly with the Minister in the coming weeks.





Learning Disability Week: free training to improve communication


As part of Learning Disability Awareness Week, we joined the campaign to improve communication for all dental patients, particularly those with learning disabilities.


One recommendation was to utilise Makaton - a system of signs and symbols which you can use alongside spoken language to help you communicate with those who have learning disabilities. We encourage you to download this set of prompt cards to use in your surgery (create a login on the site and search for ‘Your dental appointment’ in the Library section).


In response to the campaign, IT Matters are now offering 15 free training places for dental professionals to learn some basic Makaton signs.