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Updates from week commencing 28 September 2020

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

Friday 2 October 2020



How we dealt with record numbers of advice calls


As record-breaking numbers of members reach out to us for advice, Claire Bennett, employment lawyer and BDA Advisor, looks back at the start of the crisis and how we’ve been supporting members during the pandemic.


Read Claire's blog: Coronavirus: How we dealt with record numbers of advice calls.





Northern Ireland: Financial support, fallow time and PPE


​Richard Graham outlines the concerns we’re raising regarding financial support, fallow time and PPE on behalf of dentists in Northern Ireland.





COVID guidance update reduces fallow times


The Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP) UK and College of General Dentistry (CGD) have updated their guidance and incorporated the reduced fallow time that was recommended last week by the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme.


The guidance, Implications of COVID-19 for the safe management of general dental practice,  
was first published on 1 June, and supports dental professionals to take a risk-based approach to providing safe care, whatever the national COVID-19 threat.


Among the distinguishing features of the document was its consideration of the risk of exposure to potentially-infectious aerosols arising and treating all AGPs as if they carry equal risk. It thus accepted the 60-minute fallow period recommended by Public Health England following higher risk procedures.


The SDCEP review of aerosol-generating procedures in dentistry, published last week, recommends context-specific fallow periods of between 10 and 30 minutes. Consequently, the most significant change to the FGDP-CGDent guidance is the adoption of SDCEP’s fallow time recommendations, which have also been incorporated in an accompanying Fallow Time Calculator, which will be launched soon.


The revised document also provides additional detail and updated guidance on:


  • air ventilation and air cleaners
  • the use of the 3 in 1 syringe
  • the risk of aerosolisation from dental handpieces
  • decontamination of the surgery
  • the relevance of the R number and prevalence rate
  • the protection of vulnerable staff

Dental professionals are invited to learn more by joining two related webinars, which will be free to view live through Prodental:






Our condolences to the family of Janet Goodwin


We couldn't let this week pass without paying tribute to Janet Goodwin, a tireless advocate for dental nursing and dentistry, who passed away on Monday, following a long battle with breast cancer.


Janet was a powerful voice for dental care professionals, a supporter of the BADN for nearly three decades, past president of the Oral Health Foundation, and the first dental nurse to serve as a member of the General Dental Council.


Her long career covered general practice, community, dental hospitals and further education. She exemplified the hard work and dedication the dental team bring to patient care.





Your last chance: Nominate yourself for election


Nominations close for BDA board elections at 17:00 today. So don’t miss your chance, nominate yourself for election today!


Seats are up for election in the following areas:


  • Eastern
  • North West
  • West Midlands
  • Wales
  • UK-wide (One of the two UK-wide seats is a by-election, the term for which will be until 31 January 2022).

All full BDA members (not students) are eligible to nominate themselves for a seat if they have been a member since 28 August 2019.



Thursday 1 October 2020



SDCEP, fallow time and AGPs: What you need to know


Our former Chair Mick Armstrong is a member of SDCEP’s working group that published last Friday's report on AGPs in dentistry and the associated risk of COVID-19 transmission.


In his blog Mick gives us an insight into how this highly revered group came to tackle the most contentious topic in dentistry since the outbreak of COVID-19 - and what it's going to take to ensure these recommendations become Government policy.





A dentist's perspective on providing care in the COVID world


This pandemic has forced dentists to adapt to new ways of working. ​In a new blog, Northern Ireland dentist and practice owner Philip McLorinan shares some of the ways he is doing this, including dealing with backlogs due to fallow time and reinventing appointment books.





England: NHS BSA review to impact small number of contracts


With the pandemic impacting the end of the 2019/20 financial year, NHS England previously set out three possible methods to calculate UDA activity for 2019/20 to make sure that practices were not adversely impacted by the reduction in patient care. Those three possible methods were:


  • Option 1: March 2019 to February 2020 would be used to decide UDA delivery for 2019/20
  • Option 2: April 2019 to March 2020 would be used
  • Option 3: April 2019 to February 2020, plus an average UDA delivery over an appropriate three-month period in 2019/20.


Since year-end reconciliation, NHS England has now identified that these three options did not work well for a small number of contracts. The NHS Business Services Authority has now witten to indicate that in exceptional circumstances, the period from 21 March 2019 to 20 March 2020 can be used to calculate UDA delivery. Under this exceptional method, the 16 schedule months of March 19 to June 20 are assessed to calculate activity for the specified 12-month period of 21 March 2019 to 20 March 2020.


A review of all contracts has taken place and those impacted will be contacted directly by NHS BSA by 25 October.





Wales: Flagging a potential data issue


The reporting systems for dental activity in Wales was flagged as a potential problem at last night’s Welsh BDA Chairs and deputy chairs committee meeting. The issue is whether the data that is showing up is a true reflection of activity.


Currently, practices must submit data for completed COTs - including ACORNs - via the FP17W to the NHS BSA. However, practices are still required to report additional patient care data using the FDS e-referral system during the amber phase of pandemic measures. This includes any triage such as triple A and any referrals which are not able to be captured by the FP17w.


However, it has recently come to light that there may be a significant loss of data for some practices where patient numbers are appearing much lower than the practice has entered into the FDS system.

In order to understand the scale of the issue and the number of practices affected, we are writing to the NHS Wales Informatics Services today to urge them to investigate.


We advise all practice managers to get in touch with your appropriate Health Board contact to verify the numbers that have been submitted via FDS over the past three months.


We will update you as soon as we have more information.





Scotland: Our ongoing fight for dentists


We know that no other organisation can represent your interests to the Government and Ministers like we can, and we are determined not to let you down.


David McColl outlines 10 things we are doing on your behalf right now including:


  • Securing additional funding for dentists
  • Pushing for the full 2.8% pay uplift
  • Fighting for PPE concerns to be urgently addressed
  • Influencing the NHS funding model.





Report published on future of healthcare beyond COVID-19


The Commons Health and Social Care Committee has published a major report on the future of healthcare beyond COVID-19. In Delivering core NHS and care services in the pandemic and beyond, MPs built on evidence supplied by former BDA Chair Mick Armstrong in oral evidence over summer.


The report notes our concerns that dental services were "virtually non‐existent" during lockdown and on the scale of the current backlog. The report also offers wide-ranging recommendations covering all health and social care professionals, including on access to weekly COVID testing, and action on stress and burnout.


MPs have now called on the Chief Dental Officer for England to offer an assessment of the challenges facing dentistry, and to set out next steps to ensure services can continue to be restored and expanded to meet patient demand.



Wednesday 30 September 2020



Advice for pregnant dentists and staff


The advice that we and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are giving on the issue of pregnancy and COVID-19 has recently changed. This has changed because of a better understanding of the effects of COVID-19, and because of the change in the number of positive diagnoses, hospital admissions and deaths in comparison to the height of the pandemic in March and April 2020.


The evidence is that pregnant dentists or staff of any gestation with no underlying health issues are at no more risk of contracting the virus than any other non-pregnant person who is in similar health. If staff follow correct procedures and wear appropriate PPE, we believe that the dental environment is a relatively safe one and that pregnant members of the dental team can continue to work safely.


For those who are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond, there remains an increased risk of becoming ill should they contract COVID-19 (this is true of any viral illness contracted, such as 'flu). It should be noted, however, they are just as likely to recover as people who are not pregnant.


That said, guidance states that contracting COVID-19 just before or at the time of birth, would bring substantial challenges to all involved and is best avoided. The closer the pregnancy gets to the due date the more the practice should be prepared to show flexibility over the parental leave arrangements./p>


Guidance is that there should be careful risk assessments for team members in patient facing roles with appropriate arrangements to sufficiently minimise their exposure to the virus. These risk assessments must take individual risk factors into account. All team members should be symptom-free at work, and should be vigilant in mask wearing and social distancing from pregnant staff.





Webinar: Dental photography in a crisis


Are you interested in how you can use dental photography to optimise visual consultations in the COVID-19 era? Or are you looking to learn more about photographic equipment and techniques for clinical photography?


Our upcoming webinar “Selfie isolation: Dental photography in a crisis” will take you through these important issues. It will take place on Wednesday 21 October at 19:30 – 20:30 and members can attend for free. Register your place today.



Tuesday 29 September 2020



New Government PPE strategy for second wave published


The government has published its new PPE Strategy setting out how it is preparing a resilient supply chain of PPE for a second wave of COVID-19 alongside usual seasonal pressures.


The strategy includes the following points:


  • Free PPE will be available to practices with NHS contracts via the portal
  • A survey of dental practices will assist Government in demand model planning
  • 70% of supply of gowns and respirator masks will be made in the UK

We are seeking clarification on the situation for private practices and whether they can access this supply at cost price. We will keep fighting to ensure this is a fair outcome for all and will update you on any progress as it unfolds.





NHS Test and Trace QR codes do not apply to dentistry
Our advice team has received many queries regarding the NHS Test and Trace QR codes that are now a requirement for venues in hospitality, tourism and leisure. We can confirm that the QR codes do not apply to dentistry.
Dentists do not have to display QR codes in their practice as dentistry is not activity listed in the schedule of the regulations.


We will of course keep you updated should any of this advice change.





Your last chance: Nominate yourself for election


Nominations close for BDA board elections at 17:00 this Friday. So don’t miss your chance, nominate yourself for election today!


Seats are up for election in the following areas:


  • Eastern
  • North West
  • West Midlands
  • Wales
  • UK-wide (One of the two UK-wide seats is a by-election, the term for which will be until 31 January 2022).

All full BDA members (not students) are eligible to nominate themselves for a seat if they have been a member since 28 August 2019.





Dentists must be included in priority list for COVID-19 vaccine


We have sought written assurances from the Secretary of State Matt Hancock that dentists will be considered key workers, regarding any COVID-19 vaccine that is approved for use in the UK.


The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that health and social care workers receive priority access to a coronavirus vaccine, if one is authorised for use in the UK. We’re stressing that there can be no ambiguity over the status of dentists and dental team members in both NHS and private settings.


Dave Cottam, Chair of the BDA's General Dental Practice Committee, made clear: "There can be no repeat of the debacle over flu jabs and 'key worker' status. Dentists - both NHS and private - are frontline health professionals. Together with our teams we need protection so we can keep providing an essential service to the patients that need us.”





NHS COVID-19 app: Pause contact tracing at work


The free NHS COVID-19 app is a vital part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England, and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service. However, you should be aware that clinicians are advised to pause contact tracing on the app, when practising infection prevention and control, and wearing correct PPE.


Remember to turn contact tracing back on, once you leave this situation and are no longer fully protected from other people.



Monday 28 September 2020




England: Fines increase for those refusing to self-isolate


From today, it is a punishable offence not to comply with an official instruction to self-isolate, with fines starting at £1,000 and rising to £10,000 for repeat offenders or serious breaches.


The law applies to people who have tested positive for coronavirus, or who have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate because they have been in close contact with someone with the virus.


We'd like to remind dental practices that employees staying at home for these reasons should be treated as if they are on sick leave.





In the news this week


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


  • Dentists fear closures and warn it could take five years to repair damage inflicted by COVID shutdown: The Sunday Post reports on that Scotland’s dental health may take five years to recover to its pre-lockdown state. 
  • Alert issued as dental check ups in north Kirklees fall: The Dewsbury Post reports that the number of patients up to date with their dentist check-ups in North Kirklees has dropped during the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Are dentists open now – and when will appointments return to normal? The Huffington Post answers a reader's question, “When do we expect dentists to resume routine procedures, such as fillings?”. The response includes a comment from BDA Chair Eddie Crouch.





Report on AGPs and fallow time published


The Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) published its report on aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) and COVID-19 on Friday.


This report is not new government guidance, but rather a review which aims to inform policy makers. We’re urging all four nations to consider this report’s recommendations and to move forward in a clear and coordinated way.


The SDCEP reviewed available evidence relating to the generation and mitigation of aerosols in dental practice and the associated risk of COVID-19 transmission, and reached a number of agreed positions on fallow time and other mitigation measures.


Dentists and dental patients all over the country want clarity on how these essential treatments should now be provided. Patients in particular should note that any changes from these recommendations will not mean a return to “normal” dental care.


Until new guidance is issued, we urge you to follow existing government guidance on AGPs and COVID-19.





Wales: Seasonal flu vaccinations for dental teams


Following enquiries by BDA Wales, the Welsh Government has confirmed that dentists and dental teams providing any volume of NHS dental care in Wales will be able to access free flu vaccinations in the usual way via their local occupational health services.


We asked whether wholly private colleagues would be able to access this service but at present they are not eligible and must pay for their flu vaccine provided elsewhere. The paucity of support for private dentistry in Wales and across the UK remains a major obstacle to the ongoing sustainability of dentistry, and one which BDA representatives will continue to raise.





COVID-19 and Community Dental Services: the challenges ahead


Next month we're hosting a webinar outlining the current COVID-19 related challenges facing the community dental services and the implications on vulnerable groups.


Participants will get the chance to ask each speaker questions.


The webinar, on Thursday 8 October, counts for one hour's CPD and is free to members or £50 to non-members.


Book a place on COVID-19 and Community Dental Services: challenges ahead webinar now.