Friday 8 May 2020
Friday wrap up: What happened this week
Here's my weekly round up of what happened this week in relation to dentistry and the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you find it useful.
Useful links from the video:
Thursday 7 May 2020
Scotland: Initial discussion of post-COVID dentistry with officials
Today we had a constructive initial discussion with the CDO for Scotland and Scottish Government officials regarding a phased return to dental practice. The Scottish Government is working up proposals to share with us soon.
We also had preliminary discussions about what post-pandemic dentistry may look like and the importance of testing, suitable PPE, a clear patient journey, and an appropriate funding model.
Looking towards the future
How will dentistry move forward once lockdown is lifted? This is one of the most pressing issues we currently face and in the coming week we aim to give you an insight into what the options are. For now, here is one perspective on the issue.
Coronavirus and the future of NHS dentistry: A practice owner in Lancashire tells us how he set up two urgent dental centres and how the pandemic has exposed cracks in the funding of NHS dentistry. He’s said:
“It’s important not to forget that we faced challenges before COVID-19. March is often a make-or-break month for dental practices. Here in Lancashire, we were already struggling with very low UDA rates. Associate and operating costs are rising too.”
“This pandemic has exposed for all to see, that the current system of NHS dentistry funding is not fit for purpose. I hope that one of the lasting effects of this national crisis will be a reassessment of the way NHS dentistry is funded.”
Progress and perspectives from across the UK
We’re working on the issues that matter to you at a regional and national level. Here are some voices and perspectives from around the country:
Dentists must not be pressured into overprescribing antibiotics
Susie Sanderson, leader of the task force on antibiotics in dentistry for the Council of European Dentists, has called for us not to lose sight of the importance of antimicrobial resistance.
Acknowledging the extraordinary pressures dentists are now under, she has said: “This pandemic has demonstrated the havoc a pathogen can unleash when we have no protection against it. Inappropriate use of antibiotics at this time, even if motivated by the best of intentions, increases the likelihood that resistant bacteria will evolve. I'm sure you'll agree, that with a global viral pandemic underway, the last thing we need is to add to these risks.”
Read this piece:
Coronavirus: When to prescribe antibiotics.
Or see the joint letter from Public Health England, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Faculty of General Dental Practice to
support dentists in appropriate prescribing of antibiotics in urgent dental care.
Government acknowledge PPE shortages
In a welcome change in tone the government now appears to have acknowledged the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages facing our members working in England’s urgent dental centres (UDCs).
The BBC are today leading on Public Health Minister Jo Churchill’s response to questions on supplies.
She told Parliament: “We are aware that there have been delays for a number of urgent care dental hubs in getting all the PPE now required and that this is still an issue for some hubs. The Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement are working urgently to resolve this.
“As an immediate measure emergency dentistry has been placed on the list of priorities areas to receive supplies from Local Resilience Forums.”
NHS England had previously claimed every centre had the relevant PPE - in stark contrast to
evidence we provided from 1000 dentists working on the front line.
Shortages are continuing to limit patient access to urgent dental services across the country.
Wednesday 6 May 2020
BDA has its first virtual board meeting
Board (our Principal Executive Committee) held its first virtual board meeting today. The subjects covered were wide-ranging, including many aspects of the pandemic and its impact on the profession across the four UK nations, as well as the effect on the BDA as a business. The Board's priorities are securing support for dentists in both NHS and private practice and finding a safe and effective way forward for dentistry after the current lockdown period.
BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: “We’ve all become used to virtual meetings in the past couple of months. I’m glad that we can continue to work effectively and are able to pursue the key issues that are vital to the profession and patients. We will keep pushing hard in the areas that matter to our members.”
Advice for pregnant staff and associates
Advice has been published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists regarding pregnant women and COVID-19. This states that employers are responsible for carrying out a full risk assessment regarding pregnant staff in the workplace. It has also recommended that pregnant women, regardless of gestation, should be offered the choice of whether to work in patient-facing roles during the pandemic. Women who are less than 28 weeks pregnant should practise social distancing, but can, if they choose, continue working in a patient-facing role, provided the necessary precautions are taken. Women who are more than 28 weeks pregnant, or have underlying health conditions, should avoid direct patient contact.
Pregnant members may also wish to read this BMJ blog when considering whether they wish to work. Evidence on the risks of COVID-19 to pregnant women is thin at the moment. However, practice owners should not penalise pregnant associates or staff who choose to avoid patient-facing roles during this time.
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Speaking out for private dentistry
Eddie Crouch spoke to BBC Breakfast this morning about why private practice needs to be supported during the pandemic.
"My big concern is what dentistry will look like going forwards… The [lack of] support for private practice is really worrying at the moment."
"NHS practices were struggling before this and if many private practices go out of business, I'm really worried for the service that is going to be there for patients in the future."
Dentists in private practice should not be left out in the cold. We'll continue to make your voice heard and lobby government on your behalf.
Tuesday 5 May 2020
MPs warn of impending dentistry crisis
We are pleased to see dentistry was a major topic during health questions in parliament today.
MPs from across the political spectrum warned the government that NHS dentistry will be left in an "existential crisis" if they do not support the industry further.
Conservative MP Maria Miller pressed the government to look at how practices can move forward while Health Secretary Matt Hancock agreed that it is “important to get dentistry back on its feet” and acknowledged that they are working "very hard with the British Dental Association and other bodies to make sure that dentists get the support that we need”.
Other quotes from the session include:
Mr Sobel (Leeds North West): “Dozens of dentists have got in touch with me Secretary of State saying that the measures put in place aren’t protecting them and their practices – they take on a combination of private and NHS patients.
Labour's Alex Sobel: Many dental practices are "fearing bankruptcy and ultimately, closure" and will not survive the coronavirus outbreak.
Ms Miller: “So can my right honourable friend just perhaps outline how we can move forward with dental practices in the same way as he’s worked so hard in moving forward with the work that hospitals are able to do now, for which I’d like to reiterate my thanks".
Mr Hancock: “This is a really important point. I will write to her with the proposed plans for reopening dentistry. It’s obviously got to be done in a safe way and PPE is one important consideration. Dentistry by its nature requires close contact and also can be an aerosol generating procedure in certain circumstances which makes it a higher risk to the dental practitioner, the dentist or nurse and therefore by turn to other future patients. So we’ve got to get this right. Emergency dentistry is available in dentistry hubs that have been set up during the crisis".
Members: We've made these tools for you
We've been producing a series of helpful tools to help members through some of the more complex areas of the current crisis. We hope you'll find them useful. You will need to be logged in to access them.
Furlough calculator for mixed practices
Mixed practices can use this new
tool to calculate the amount of money you are entitled to claim from the Government if you were to furlough some of your staff for a given period of time. To make it easier we've always made a
demo video on using the furlough calculator.
Videos on financial support
webinar on financial packages, furloughing and retaining your staff, and paying associates in NHS and mixed practice is now available to watch in four edited videos. We have also made available the
slideshow that our expert advisors referred to during the webinar.
Pay dispute resolution service for associates
Corporate bodies and practice owners with NHS contracts will continue to be paid on the condition (among others) that they pass on income due to associates. If you encounter issues, we will take them up on your behalf. See more about
logging your pay dispute with us.
Remote consultation guide
We've put together guidance on
how to conduct a remote consultation with your patients and avoid some of the common pitfalls.
We created a
risk assessment to support members in providing urgent care. We've also updated it with guidance on record-keeping for NHS practices and triaging.
NHS Mail account for private practices
It's important that private practices have access to an NHS email account. Without one, it will make it much harder for you to be able to make referrals to UDCs and issue prescriptions. To set it up you need to answer 14 questions on data management and security. Here's our
guide on how best to answer these questions.
We have drafted a
letter for members with mixed practices to give to staff to explain the situation and seek their agreement to be furloughed workers.
We have also put together a document detailing
key questions being asked by members.
Monday 4 May 2020
What’s happening this week
NHS contractual frameworks
Once again we start the week seeking certainty around the detail of contractual provisions in different parts of the UK. In Scotland, we are due to meet with the Chief Dental Officer and team to raise a range of individual queries raised by members.
Meanwhile, south of the border, we continue dialogue with NHS England about a number of significant issues, most notably the abatement figure to be applied to contractual payments. We know how important this is and will be seeking urgent clarification.
This week the General Dental Practice Committee’s newly formed private practice subgroup meets for the first time. We will be discussing our existing approaches to supporting private dentistry and how private dentistry will begin to emerge from the pandemic lockdown.
Both our Principal Executive and Health and Science Committees also meet this week and will be considering our approach to the post lock-down period. This include reviewing and learning from the experience of our international colleagues.
Later this week we will be asking members for your perspective on the appropriate approach to enable safe and effective care as we move ahead. So please look out for our short survey.
Alongside our on-going work with parliamentarians on the financial impact of the pandemic, we will also be submitting evidence to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee’s new inquiry into delivering core NHS and care services during the pandemic and beyond.
Our evidence will be submitted by the end of the week and we will share it with you as soon as we can.
Bereavement and trauma support for NHS staff
A new NHS bereavement and trauma line providing support, including a team of specialist counsellors and support workers, has been made available to support NHS staff affected by COVID-19. This assistance is available from anywhere across the country, provided by Hospice UK and can support staff:
- who have experienced a bereavement
- whose wellbeing has been affected by witnessing traumatic deaths as part of their work
- to discuss any other anxiety or emotional issues they are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.
The service is open to all NHS workers in England and is available seven days a week between 8am and 8pm. All calls will be treated in the strictest of confidence and you do not need a referral. Just call 0300 303 4434.