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Updates from week commencing 5 April 2021

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

Friday 9 April 2021



A tribute to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021


We have paid tribute to past President His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh following the news of his death today.


The Duke was made an honorary member in 1957 and remained a constant supporter of the Association’s work. In 1980 he was appointed President of Honour, marking the centenary of the BDA.


Writing in his Presidential address in 1980, the Duke wrote: “If the Association feels that a hundred years is worth celebrating, I can only say that millions of dental patients will join them in their celebration, if only in thanksgiving for the vast improvement and progress in dental treatment that has taken place in that period and for the development of the concept of prevention as of equal importance to treatment.”


The Association has extended its condolences to Her Majesty the Queen, the Association’s Royal Patron.

BDA President Russ Ladwa said: “Today the BDA has lost an honorary member, a past President, and a firm believer in the role dentists play in improving the health of the nation.


“Over 40 years ago the Duke set out a vision on prevention that was ahead of its time and remains our goal.


“The Association salutes the foresight of my predecessor, and on behalf of this profession let me extend our condolences to our Patron, Her Majesty the Queen, and to the Royal Family.”





England and Wales: Wrong tooth extractions no longer Never Event


Wrong tooth extractions are no longer considered a never event in England and Wales. This is an issue that we have been working on for a number of years and believe it should come as reassuring news for dentists, who will no longer be required to declare these incidents as never events. All other existing reporting remains in place.


Never events are a specifically defined serious patient safety incident that is wholly preventable due to strong systemic barriers resulting from the implementation of national guidance. Following BDA representation from all branches of practice and clinical academia, it is now accepted that the national guidance in relation to tooth extraction does not provide the strong systemic barriers necessary to meet the definition of a never event.


This removal from the list means that there are now no dental-specific never events in England, the BDA having previously secured the removal of wrong-site blocks. Following the announcement by NHS England, the Welsh Government confirmed that the removal of wrong site tooth extraction as a never event will also apply in Wales.





Do you know the signs of domestic abuse?


A letter has been sent to all NHS healthcare workers regarding domestic abuse during COVID-19. It outlines the key signs of domestic abuse and the support services that are available, to members of the public and NHS staff.


Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background. If you are worried that a friend, neighbour or loved one is a victim of domestic abuse, then you can freephone the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.





England: Free PPE extended until March 2022


Last week, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) formally extended the provision of free COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) until 31 March 2022.


In making this decision, DHSC say they have considered the likely trajectory of the pandemic, the roll-out of the national vaccination programme and have engaged with a broad range of stakeholders.





Wales: What government must do on oral health


Dentistry in Wales was in sharp decline even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last year has seen access to services collapse, and pioneering work in the community to address oral health inequalities left at risk.


Ahead of the Senedd elections, our message to all parties hoping to form the next Welsh government is clear. The next government must:


  1. Improve access to NHS dentistry
  2. Take action on oral health inequalities
  3. Enable a fresh start for dental services post COVID

Get behind the headlines, read our 2021 manifesto.



Thursday 8 April 2021



Dental students: Share your stories


20% of all applications for financial support to the BDA Benevolent Fund come from dental students, and the charity supports students in hardship by offering means tested grants and mental health and wellbeing support.


Now the BDA Benevolent Fund are looking for students to attend its next virtual Advisory Council meeting to share their experiences and perhaps provide guidance, support, and advice to the charity's Board of Trustees. They are particularly keen to understand how best to promote its work to dental students and so would welcome undergraduates, recent graduates and those that work at universities across the UK to participate. If you're a dental student, please consider attending on Saturday 24 April at 10.30. Your voice can make a difference.





Confidential counselling and emotional support


We provide all members with access to Health Assured, a comprehensive confidential service designed to help you deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home life or work life, health, and general wellbeing. Members can access the helpline 24/7, 365 days a year. Support includes:


  • Life support: Unlimited access to counselling for emotional problems and a pathway to structured telephone counselling for you or your dependents and for you face-to-face counselling sessions at your convenience.
  • Legal information: Advice for you on any issues that cause anxiety or distress including debt management, accountancy, lawsuits, consumer disputes, property or neighbour disputes.
  • Bereavement support: Health Assured offers qualified and experienced counsellors who can help with grief and related stress plus a team of legal advisors to help with legal issues.
  • Medical information: Qualified nurses are on hand to offer advice on a range of medical or health related issues. They can't diagnose but can offer a sympathetic ear and practical information and advice.
  • CBT online: We recognise the value of self-help tools in dealing with a range of issues, which is why we have a range of CBT self-help modules, informative factsheets and invaluable advice videos from leading qualified counsellors.





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 and the dental team, foreign travel and self-isolation see our FAQs.





Wales: Winning pledges to act on dentistry


Today, we launched Bridging the Gap, our manifesto for the 2021 Senedd Cymru election. It sets out what we believe the next Welsh Government needs to do to support and improve dentistry and oral health.


We've shared our policy calls with all the major parties to aid their understanding of oral health issues from dentists’ perspectives. Our outreach has already borne fruit, with Plaid Cymru devoting an entire section of their manifesto to their plans for improving dentistry in Wales. We look forward to similar commitments from the other major parties in the days to come.


If you have contact with any candidates on the campaign trail, be sure to let them know you are a BDA member, and use the policy calls in our manifesto to help your discussion.





Wales: Election candidates urged to prioritise dental care


We are warning that the oral health gap in Wales is set to widen, in light of official data that nearly two million treatments were lost in Wales during 2020-21. As little as a fifth of the usual levels of NHS dentistry were carried out during this period. Practices now face an enormous backlog of urgent treatment that has built up during lockdown.


We are actively encouraging all candidates seeking election to the Senedd this year to commit to bridging these divides. We have set out an action plan for bridging the gap in oral health care.


Reflecting on the challenges we face, Russell Gidney, Chair of our Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, has said: “NHS Dentistry was in crisis long before COVID. We have started down the right path, but the next Senedd must go further. Oral health is not an optional extra. Wales now has the chance to break with the past, and rebuild a service millions depend on with prevention at its heart.”



Wednesday 7 April 2021



Help managing stress: Resources and services


Are you or your colleagues experiencing stress? This Stress Awareness Month we encourage you to avail of the resources and services that are available to support dentists and their teams with stress management. Included in our lists are both UK-wide services and those specific to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and specific resources for issues such as suicide prevention, addiction and bereavement.


You don't have to be a BDA member to access most of these resources, so please do take a look at what's available to you and consider reaching out. If you are a BDA member, you can also access our 27/7 confidential counselling service. Your mental health matters. If you are experiencing stress, please do reach out.





Scotland: What government must do on oral health


This pandemic has caused a colossal backlog of unmet dental care need in Scotland. Stark and persistent inequalities in oral health have also widened over the past year, making investment in prevention essential. Our message to the Government is clear. To tackle these unprecedented oral health challenges the next Government must:


  • Address the backlog of unmet dental care need
  • Promote prevention to help tackle oral health inequalities
  • Ensure NHS dentistry remains sustainable
  • Improve access for vulnerable groups
  • Integrate oral health with wider public health priorities.


Get behind the headlines, read our 2021 manifesto.





England: Calls for clarity in dental public health


Following several announcements from the Government relating to the reorganisation of public health last week, we are reiterating our commitment to ensuring members' roles are safeguarded and continuing to seek clarity on the future of dental public health.


Central dental public health teams will be moving to the newly created Office for Health Promotion, but the destination of regional teams has still not been confirmed. Our Dental Public Health Committee (DPHC) are monitoring the situation carefully and campaigning on your behalf. As DPHC Chair, Dr Robert Witton, said this week:


"Many dental public health consultants have taken a leading role during the pandemic, and thanks to their efforts urgent dental care was available for many patients who needed it. We know how frustrated members are due to the continued uncertainty of where dental public health will sit under the new arrangements. Successive reorganisations of public health have seen DPH roles being 'salami sliced'. We need to see an end to this and more investment in DPH roles, so we can plan for the future and for real prevention in oral health."


We will continue to monitor the situation and update you as soon as possible.





Northern Ireland: Land & Property Services respond to dental rates relief eligibility concerns


We recently wrote to the Northern Ireland Minister of Finance to request that he act immediately to amend the eligibility of financial support programmes to better support private/mixed dental practices. Unfortunately, Land & Property Services (LPS) have now responded saying there is no scope to extend the grant scheme to larger dental practices.


In our original letter, we requested that the eligibility criteria of the grant support scheme, and the non-domestic rates holiday scheme, be extended to include dental practices. After, it was announced on Monday 15 March that dental practices that received the £10k Small Business Support Grant during the first lockdown would receive a further £5k of grant funding. This was welcome for those dental practices who received the additional funding, however larger dental practices found themselves excluded, despite having the same COVID operational restrictions as their smaller counterparts.


Ian Snowden, the Chief Executive of Land and Property Services, has now responded to state there is no scope to extend the grant scheme to larger dental practices. There is also no scope to extend the rates holiday to dental practices as they were not deemed to be a priority sector by independent analysis. He goes on to state that the Department of Health is best placed to support dental practices.


This is a disappointing response which further highlights the NI Executive’s disjointed approach to private dentistry. Despite being placed under the same restrictions as Health Service dentistry, neither the Department of health, Department for the Economy, or the Department of Finance is willing to accept responsibility for supporting private dentistry. We will continue to raise this issue at every opportunity and support private practices through this difficult time.





Scotland: Election candidates urged to tackle inequality


We are urging all candidates contesting the Scottish election to pledge to commit to tackling the shameful inequalities in oral health set to go into overdrive as a result of the pandemic.


Unpublished data from Public Health Scotland has shown a dramatic reduction in NHS dentistry due to COVID, which is hitting those in most deprived communities the hardest. Between April and November 2020, the number of courses of treatment delivered was 83% lower than during the same period in 2019.

Official figures show that primary school children from the most deprived communities experience more than four times the level of tooth decay compared to children in the least deprived areas.


We are making direct contact with every candidate seeking election to Holyrood to ask them to commit to addressing oral health inequality.


Robert Donald, Chair of the BDA’s Scottish Council said: “In this campaign we need candidates to do more than talk about ‘prevention’. From helping practices boost capacity, through to expansion of the sugar levy, we have set out simple steps that can put that principle into action, addressing inequality, and restoring services to millions.”



Tuesday 6 April 2021



England: FAQs on NHS contracts


This week NHS England confirmed that targets for NHS general dental services contract holders in England would rise to 60% for the next six months. The majority of practices are currently unable to reach this target and many members have been in touch asking for advice.


We have updated our FAQs to provide you with the answers you need, including:


  • What's happening with the 2021-2022 NHS contract year?
  • What is happening with prototype contracts?
  • What's happening with lockdown abatement?
  • What's happening with overperformance?
  • Has progress been made on contract reform?





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Could you run a marathon to help dentists and dental students?


The BDA Benevolent Fund helps dentists, dental students and their families in hardship with financial assistance as well as offering accessing mental health and wellbeing support. And this year they're looking for three runners to run the Virtual Virgin Money London Marathon on their behalf this year. It's a great way of raising awareness and much-needed funds. You'll have a full 24 hours to complete your 26.2 miles on Sunday 3 October and can do it anywhere in the country, so don't miss out!


If you are interested, there's one more week to sign up, please complete an expression of interest form by 9am Monday 12 April. Runners will be shortlisted, chosen and notified by Friday 16 April.





BDA Museum: Telling the story of dentistry


Our museum is still closed to the public due to the pandemic. However, Rachel Bairsto, BDA Museum Head, recently appeared on the BBC's World Service programme 'The Forum', about the history of dentistry.


She spoke alongside Dr Scott Swank of the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore in the US, and Professor Dominik Gross of RWTH Aachen University in Germany and has written a blog reflecting on the highlights including: Mayan jewelled teeth, hippo ivory dentures and the humble toothbrush.





Letter to the Prime Minister on health and obesity


Last week, we co-signed an Obesity Health Alliance letter to the Prime Minister, which urged him to move ahead with landmark plans to remove junk food adverts from online platforms and social media. This is an essential part of our campaign on sugar and oral health. The letter says:


"The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the brutal health inequalities that exist within our society, and we know that inequalities in rates of overweight and obesity amongst children are increasing, along with stark inequalities in other diet-related conditions such as dental decay. In order to level up the country, and ensure every child has the best start in life, this must be addressed."