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Updates from week commencing 22 February 2021

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

Friday 26 February 2021



Changes to regulations may affect dentists


Changes have been made to regulations regarding those who regularly work in the UK while living abroad, which may affect some dental teams. Previously, a dentist living abroad could travel to England to work so long as they returned to their home country at least once a week. This has now been revoked in England and Northern Ireland. However, it is still in force in Wales. See for more information.





Webinar: Buying and selling dental practices after COVID-19


Are you planning to buy or sell a dental practice? If so, register to attend our upcoming webinar which tells you everything you need to know about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the process. Taking place on Thursday 25 March 2021 at 19:30 – 20:30, the webinar is designed to help you:


  • Understand how COVID-19 has impacted the buying and selling market
  • Explore current diligence requirements for dental practice sales
  • Review the typical deal structures for dental practice acquisitions
  • Analyse current practice valuation trends.





England: Reporting your lateral flow test


NHS Digital are trialling new artificial intelligence (AI) software to read test results of lateral flow devices, which will make reporting results quicker, easier to understand and more accurate.


Primary care staff testing with Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) must report their test results online – whether negative, positive or invalid. From the end of next week, when you do so, you will be able to take part in this trial.


Taking part in the trial is entirely optional and staff will continue to be able to submit test results as usual, however taking part in the trial can help improve the overall reporting process. Here's how it will work:


  1. You take your lateral flow test as usual
  2. Report your result online as usual
  3. When they report it: use a smartphone or tablet and follow the prompts to take a photo of the lateral flow device (LFD) to upload with your result
  4. Give NHS Digital feedback on the process using this survey.





Psychological first aid training available


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on children, with many reporting that it has made them feel more stressed, lonely and worried. Online training, developed by Public Heath England (PHE) , is now available for those supporting children and young people aged up to 25 years affected by COVID-19.


Children and young people can be very resilient, but crises such as COVID-19 can severely impact their mental health. Getting the right support early on can help prevent problems occurring or worsening. This course may help you or your dental team to provide practical and emotional support to children and young people affected by emergencies or crisis situations.





England: Two days to book your COVID-19 vaccine


Until this Sunday, dentists and locums can book to receive their COVID-19 vaccination in a vaccination centre or community pharmacy through the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service.


As part of the booking process, you will need to self-declare that you are a healthcare worker, the type of role/work you do and the name of your employer. You should also bring ID/proof of employment such as a staff ID badge, a recent payslip or recent letter/email from your employer (dated within the last three months).


Locum staff are also eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. Locums should follow the above process, but verbally declare they are a locum healthcare worker. They should provide details of their locum agency, proof of General Dental Council registration and a letter of confirmation of locum status from their locum agency (dated within the last three months).





Uber: What does the Supreme Court ruling mean for associates?


The Supreme Court's landmark decision against Uber has raised questions for all self-employed people including associate dentists.


Our advisory director, James Goldman discusses the outcome of the case - and why it is unlikely to change anything for associates.


"There is a world of difference between Uber drivers and self-employed associates and as a result, the Supreme Court's decision is unlikely to have any impact on dentistry."




Thursday 25 February 2021



Wales: NHS targets and contract reform


In his latest blog, Tom Bysouth, Chair of the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, updates us on contract reform, NHS financial support and targets for quarters one and two in Wales.


"The possibility of forthcoming targets and contract reform have been a considerable source of stress to many Welsh dentists. Our daily calls with members and most recent mental health survey are proof of this... Here's what you need to know."






Discussing vaccination with your team


We suggest that practices discuss the vaccination with all members of the dental team. The University of Bristol has produced a helpful Communications Handbook on this. It's important that concerns about the vaccine are discussed in good time and sensitively.


The vaccine is important in our fight against coronavirus, but practices should be aware that they cannot insist that staff have the vaccine when it is offered. If, after a discussion, a member of the dental team refuses to have the vaccine, the practice must accept that decision.


In any event, practices should ensure that all members of the dental team continue to adhere to the standard operating procedures and to practice policies and procedures. The situation is no different for associates. For more information on vaccination, pregnancy and the dental team see our FAQs.





Lunchtime webinar on Practitioner Health support services


Register today for our lunchtime webinar on Friday 26 March at 12:30 - 13:30 to improve your awareness of mental health and bereavement support available to dentists and trainees.


This will be a live interview-style webinar session with Professor Dame Clare Gerada, Medical Director of Practitioner Health, and Roz McMullan, Past BDA President and advocate for wellbeing in dentistry.


It will cover what you need to know about:


  • Practitioner Health’s self-referral support service for mental health issues
  • How to support your team to know that it’s okay to not be okay, and to seek professional help
  • The other wellbeing and prevention resources available to you.





FFP3 masks: Check your stocks


The Department of Health and Social Care have warned that Fang Tian FT-045A FFP3 masks may not meet the technical specification for FFP3 masks. You are advised to check your stocks of FFP3 masks for these products and not to use them until their investigation has been completed.


Manufacturer: Fang Tian FT-045A FFP3 masks

Supplier: Polyco Healthline

Product Code: BWM541



Wednesday 24 February 2021



Scotland: Aberdeen students are now eligible for bursary support


The Scottish Government has finally confirmed that final year students at Aberdeen will be eligible to apply for the bursary support that was made available to students in Glasgow and Dundee earlier this month.


We are very pleased to receive this news, which follows our calls to the Scottish Government to avoid two-tier support for dental students. The bursary scheme, which was announced on 12 February, will be offered to all dental students in Scotland - including those whose home is elsewhere in the UK and overseas, as well as Scottish-domiciled students.


The support will be made on a pro-rata basis for the extra months until completion of the degree.

This is the right decision, and we hope it will offer dental students in Scotland some much needed reassurance.





England: CQC promises to address registration delays


We have previously updated you on our efforts to raise your concerns regarding the delay in registration with the Care Quality Commission.


Our Chair, Eddie Crouch has written to Ian Trenholm, the Chief Executive of the CQC, regarding the 16-20 weeks delay for members trying to register a new practice. This delay is having a huge impact on the transfer of dental practices within the current financial year before changes to capital gains commence.


Following a response and a short meeting to discuss this, the CQC have now confirmed the following:


  1. They are moving more staff to the registration team
  2. Practice inspectors, among others are being trained up and will do this job outside of normal working hours

The CQC confirmed that they are equally frustrated that the backlog had crept up on them and are seeking to put things in place to ensure this problem does not occur again.


Reports from members indicate that expected dates have been given for some practices, but we will continue to voice your concerns and will update you with more progress as soon we hear.





Northern Ireland: NHS and mixed practices eligible for £1.5m funding


Today we have received a positive response from Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA in regard to our queries on the COVID-19 underspend and support for GDPs.


Mr Swann's letter confirms that the Department of Health business case has been accepted and £1.5m funding will be made available for improvements to surgeries, allowing practices to make changes to meet the pandemic's logistical requirements.


The funding, known as the Patient Throughout Scheme, is also available to mixed practices and will be administered based on the number of surgeries in each practice.


Further to this funding, Mr Swann also confirms that officials are considering additional support in relation to PPE, which we continue to highlight as an area of need.


We are pleased to see this response to our business case evidence and we will continue to be your voice and call for support on your behalf.





Northern Ireland: GDPs and staff are eligible for £500 payments


GDPs and their staff will be included within the eligibility scope to receive £500 payments, the Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA has confirmed today.


This confirmation is part of a response to numerous queries we put to the Department of Health relating to COVID recognition payments and vaccination remuneration.


In his letter, Mr Swann confirmed the following:


  1. COVID recognition payments: GDPs and their staff will be included within the eligibility scope to receive the £500 payments.
  2. Student £2k Special recognition payment: The DoH have chosen a criteria that excludes dental students (and their medical and pharmacy colleagues) from the recognition payment and will not be changing this criteria.  This is disappointing, but we will continue to work to ensure dental students are supported as fully as possible during this difficult period.
  3. Vaccinator remuneration: We queried why GDPs are being remunerated at Band 5 which is considerably below their medical counterparts. We have now been informed that while doctors and employed dentists are being paid under their existing terms and conditions, for any other individual it is at the assessed level of the role, which was agreed by the four nations at equivalent to AfC Band 5.


Read the Health Minister's letter to the BDA in relation to COVID recognition payments.





Vaccination and the dental team


Dental teams around the country have been urged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the earliest possible opportunity.


Our FAQs may help answer your questions about COVID-19 and vaccination:


  • How can I access the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • If I'm vaccinated, is full PPE essential?
  • Is the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?
  • What if I'm pregnant?



Tuesday 23 February 2021



England: Minister challenged on activity targets


At today’s health and social care questions in the House of Commons John McNally MP challenged the Health Minister on the issue of dental activity targets. He quoted our concerns that the fear of financial penalties for missing the Government's unrealistic activity targets might force NHS dentists in England to prioritise quick check-ups over time-consuming urgent cases.


He also urged the Government to adopt a “more realistic approach to service recovery” and to reform the dental contract so as to promote preventative dental care in the future.


In her response Jo Churchill MP, the Minister responsible for dentistry, said a more preventative approach to dentistry was her long-term goal. She stressed exceptional circumstances will be taken into account by commissioners and referred to meeting with the BDA to discuss this again later this week.





Scotland: Concerns about reduced patient attendance and widening inequalities


We have raised concerns about the collapse in patient attendance rates due to the pandemic, and the widening gap in attendance rates between people from the most and least deprived areas.


New data published today show that while registration rates remained high and broadly stable - owing to lifetime registration - the number of children seeing a dentist between May and December 2020 was around a quarter of the 2018-19 average due to the pandemic. Between September and November 2020, the number of adults seen was around a third of the 2018-19 average, before falling to less than 30% of the 2018-19 average in December 2020.


We are concerned that lower levels of participation will inevitably translate into a higher disease burden. For example, early signs of decay and oral cancers are picked up at routine check-ups, and delays will mean both higher costs to the NHS and worse outcomes for patients.


Patients in more deprived communities have traditionally experienced lower levels of participation. The new data show that in 2020, children and adults from the most deprived areas were less likely to have seen their dentist within the last two years than those from the least deprived areas (73.5% compared to 85.7% of children and 55.9% compared to 67.1% of adults). These inequalities in access between the most and least deprived areas have grown since 2019, particularly in children.





Have you ever worked as a prison dentist?


After five years of campaigning on behalf of prison dentists, we are now happy to confirm that prison dentists are no longer excluded from the NHS pensions scheme. If you have ever worked as a prison dentist, you may have been incorrectly excluded from the NHS pensions scheme. Your contributions can now be included retrospectively.


For advice on what this change might mean for you members can login to access our prison pensions FAQs  or get in touch with our team on Non-members can join today to access our FAQs or reach out to the NHS BSA for more information.





Last week to volunteer for COVID-19 study


You can help us to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers by volunteering to take part in the United Kingdom Research Study into Ethnicity and COVID-19 Outcomes in Healthcare Workers (UK-REACH).


This is a large and important study that could help to protect the health of everyone in the dental team. This pandemic is a long way from over and it is vital that we improve our understanding of the disparities in COVID-19 outcomes across different groups.


If you have not yet joined the study, we invite you to take part. People of all ethnicities are needed and being vaccinated will not preclude you from participating. Find out more and give your consent on the UK-REACH website.





Top tips for DCT interviews


Part of COVID-19's impact on Dental Core Training (DCT) has been to make all interviews for National Recruitment virtual for the first time ever. This is a whole new format and it is difficult to predict exactly how they will be conducted and assessed. Thankfully, we can assume that many of the same qualities and skills will still be tested. And although the process may be daunting, you're not alone in preparing for this.


In a recent blog, Anurag Srinivas compiled some top tips for DCT interviews. This may help give you a good starting point and a bit more confidence as you prepare for this virtual interview.




Monday 22 February 2021



Wales: Final year students likely to graduate this year


The Chief Dental Officer for Wales has assured us that everything possible is being done to facilitate final year dental students to graduate this year.


In a letter written last Thursday, she points to assurances from Prof Nicola Innes, Head of Cardiff Dental School, that she and the team at the school are doing all they can to ensure as many of the Final Year Students as possible will reach the standard of safe beginner this year.


This will likely require extra clinical patient treatment sessions outside of traditional teaching times. However, it is encouraging news and a welcome effort for the students involved and DFTs. We will continue to speak up on behalf of dental students in Wales and update you when we have more information.





Northern Ireland: DOH announces £1.5m ventilation grant


The Department of Health has announced a £1.5 million GDS grant for ventilation expenses to help improve patient throughput at dental surgeries. This follows a bid, based on our collated evidence, to the Department of Finance to use a proportion of unspent COVID funding.


Dental practice ventilation has been one of the key barriers to increasing patient throughput during this pandemic and we welcome both the Department of Health's willingness to listen to our concerns and the expediency with which it secured this additional funding.


We will be working with the Department in the coming months to address other issues such as PPE funding and the physically exhausting experience of wearing Level 2 PPE for extended periods.


General Dental Practices will be notified directly about the new grant scheme from the Health and Social Care Board in the coming days.





England: What the white paper means for dentistry


The white paper recently launched by Health Secretary Matt Hancock spells fundamental change in the way healthcare works in England. New laws are set to reach the statute books in 2022, and change will not be limited to the NHS.


Indeed, the results will likely be felt by dental colleagues across NHS and private services, in high street, community and hospital settings. And while technically England-only, the policies set out are likely to influence the direction of travel in other UK nations.


Today, BDA Chair Eddie Crouch tells us what you need to know about how these reforms could impact the future of dental care.






Lunchtime webinar on Practitioner Health support services


Register today for our lunchtime webinar on Friday 26 March at 12:30 - 13:30 to improve your awareness of mental health and bereavement support available to dentists and trainees.


This will be a live interview-style webinar session with Professor Dame Clare Gerada, Medical Director of Practitioner Health, and Roz McMullan, Past BDA President and advocate for wellbeing in dentistry.


It will cover what you need to know about:


  • Practitioner Health’s self-referral support service for mental health issues
  • How to support your team to know that it’s okay to not be okay, and to seek professional help
  • The other wellbeing and prevention resources available to you.