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Live updates: Coronavirus and dentistry

The BDA is doing everything in its power on the issues that matter to you. Our priority is the safety of you, your team and your patients and the financial sustainability of your practice. I am regularly adding to this page to keep you updated on what we are doing to help you through the challenges of COVID-19.

Martin Woodrow
Chief Executive


Friday 5 June 2020



New Standard Operating Procedures for England


Two new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been published in England.


  1. Transition to Recovery: A phased transition for dental practices towards the resumption of the full range of dental provision
  2. Urgent Dental Centres (UDCs): Guidance and SOP for the provision of urgent dental care in primary care dental settings and designated urgent dental care provider sites.





BBC News on dentists returning to face-to-face care


Last night BBC London featured a segment on the issue of PPE supply in regard to dental practices in England opening on 8 June. Watch from 4:45 (available until 22.50 tonight).




Thursday 4 June 2020



New guidance from The Dental Schools Council


The Dental Schools Council has published a new guide: COVID-19 – returning to student-led dental clinical treatments which provides recommendations on risk mitigation based on currently-available evidence. The guide, which will be updated regularly, complements our own new toolkit and we were pleased to contribute to its development.





Northern Ireland: Clarity sought on PPE and financial support


Richard Graham, Chair of Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, has written to the Health Minister Robin Swann to seek clarity on issues relating to the phased return of the GDS as outlined by the Acting CDO earlier this week.


Clarity is being sought on whether the Department of Health will give practitioners access to a central supply of PPE, if financial supports will continue for so long as they are needed and whether there will be a reduction of the abatement on FSS payments as costs increase alongside an increase of face-to-face care. The plight of private practice has also been emphasised to the Minister.





BDA Good Practice members: Returning to face-to-face care


Good Practice members may now complete our returning to face-to-face care assessment to receive a certificate to indicate Good Practice compliance. Not a Good Practice Scheme member? FInd out more about the Good Practice certification today.





British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show postponed again


The British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show has been officially postponed once again. The planned date of the next conference is now 21-22 May 2021. Further details can be found on the show website. For queries relating to the show, please contact the organisers CloserStill Media.





Standard Operating Procedures published


The Office of the Chief Dental Officer England has released the much anticipated Standard Operating Procedures for the 'transition to recovery'.


The SOP aims to cover a phased transition for dental practices towards the resumption of a full range of dental provision.





Perspectives on re-opening from around the country


We’re working to support and inform dentists across the UK, as restrictions on dentistry are lifted at different rates across the four nations. Here are some voices from around the country, reflecting on the challenges dentists face:


  • England: Anne Grew, a mixed practice owner from North London, tells us why re-opening a dental practice after lockdown poses serious challenges
  • Northern Ireland: Tristen Kelso reflects on the challenges of returning to face-to-face care and the burning questions facing dentistry in Northern Ireland
  • Wales: Paul Jones tells us how de-escalation plans impact private practices in Wales and highlights members’ voices at this critical time.





Wales: CDO's message to private practices


Dr Colette Bridgman, Chief Dental Officer Wales, has acknowledged the pressures placed on private practices in Wales at this time, as she looks ahead to when current restrictions will lift she has said: "The treatment you can offer is currently limited to non-AGPs and urgent care... these cautious but necessary steps will continue to have a financial impact on private practitioners, but we are making progress to a return to service."


She also encourages private practices to use this time and the guidance available to prepare for re-opening and to avail of free access to the Attend Anywhere software, purchased by the Welsh Government for dentists in Wales to hold remote consultations.





Dental practices in England obtaining PPE


NHS England and the Office of the CDO announced last week that, from 8 June, practice can open to resume face-to-face care if they have appropriate social distancing and other safety measures in place.

The Office of the CDO has indicated today that PPE for dentists will be available from dental wholesalers for practices to purchase from 5 June. They have confirmed that this will include equipment necessary for aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) including gowns or coveralls, and FFP2 respirator masks.

The HSE website has advice and training materials on fit testing respirator masks.


We have been advised that practitioners and staff involved in conducting AGPs can also book free fit test training via an independent Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) fit testing company. If you are experiencing fit testing issues, a helpline is available from 08.00–20:00 seven days per week on 07947 968972 or 07947 968922. We understand that bookings for online training courses for fit-testing will also be available via these phonelines (subject to availability). We understand that these phone lines have been very busy and members are having some difficulty getting through.



Wednesday 3 June 2020



Helping you prepare for a return to face-to-face care


More than 8,000 members have already downloaded our toolkit on returning to face-to-face care, as dentists in England prepare to open from 8 June.


Our toolkit aims to help teams implement the changes needed to gear up to providing appropriate treatments at appropriate times. It provides practical advice on every step of the process, including advice on:


  • Infection control, cleaning and PPE
  • How best to communicate the changes to patients
  • Employee management and training
  • NHS contractual arrangements.

Our aim is to support you in the practical application of widely agreed measures, so you can return to face-to-face care with confidence. We also contributed to the FGDP (UK)’s work, so you will see similarities and alignment between the two pieces.





NHS test and trace resources published


The NHS test and trace service aims to ensure that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus, to trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus. It is hoped that this service will allow us to trace the spread of the virus and isolate new infections and play a vital role in giving us early warning if the virus is increasing again, locally or nationally. Dental teams returning to their practices may wish to contribute to these efforts by displaying these test and trace posters just released.





Scotland: NHS practices will not open on 8 June


Tom Ferris, Chief Dental Officer, Scotland has informed us that dental practices in Scotland will not reopen to NHS patients from next Monday (8 June) as had been widely trailed. This is to allow enough time for practices and NHS Boards to make the necessary preparations, as well as finalise the funding model and secure sufficient PPE. The reopening date is subject to further internal Scottish Government discussions, but will be some time this month. We expect the CDO will send a letter to the profession this week with an update on the indicative timescale for reopening.


In the meantime, practices should be using the SDCEP return to practice guidance to prepare for reopening later this month. We have also issued a returning to face-to-face care toolkit (available to members) with practical advice on returning to practice. Although largely England-focused, it provides useful guidance that complements the SDCEP publication.


We are having ongoing discussions with the Scottish Government around the funding model (including financial support for mixed practices), PPE availability, and extending ‘key worker’ status to dental staff. We will keep you updated on progress.


Wholly private dental practices in Scotland have been advised that they can now reopen, but have been reminded that the safety of staff and patients is paramount. We understand that Healthcare Improvement Scotland will be issuing guidance this week and will keep you updated.





Scotland: Assurance about the NHS financial support payments


Scottish Dental Practice Committee representatives have spoken with NHS Practitioner Services Division (PSD) to peer review their process for calculating the financial support payments to individual practitioners. We know that PSD have received several hundred queries from dentists about the Scottish Government’s NHS funding package and how it relates to their individual circumstances. Most of these related to maternity issues or where practitioners had changed list numbers during the test period.


After PSD explained their methodology, we randomly selected some anonymised examples and PSD explained the payment calculation for each example. SDPC representatives were satisfied that the PSD approach was fair and transparent, and commended PSD on their efforts to address dentists’ queries.


If you have questions about these payments, we recommend you see the latest FAQ. We believe that they will update them as more information becomes available.



Tuesday 2 June 2020



Public Health England report on COVID-19 disparities in risks and outcomes


Today's Public Health England report on COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes highlights the deeply concerning disproportionate risks faced by colleagues from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. We hope to see a clear Government action plan in response to the report.


BAME communities represent around 28% of the dentist population in the UK and as dentistry begins to return to face-to-face care, the associated risks will be at the forefront of the profession's minds. We have today produced a toolkit on returning to work which highlights that organisations should support sensitive and comprehensive conversations with BAME staff, recognising the long-standing context of the poorer experience of BAME individuals in all parts of healthcare. Any underlying health conditions that may increase the risks in undertaking frontline roles should be identified and acted upon.





NHS England/CDO Standard operating procedure


We had been anticipating a new SOP for England in the early part of this week around the transition to dental recovery, following last week’s announcement of a return to face-to-face practice.


We know that work has been ongoing to develop the SOP but once again, its publication has not happened in a timely way. As we have seen consistently throughout the pandemic, it has taken too long to get important information out of NHS England.


We have expressed our frustration that, with the short time frame for practices to prepare, it is simply unacceptable for dentists at this point to lack this important guidance.


We will of course update you when we hear more.





Northern Ireland: Phased return for dental services outlined


The Acting Chief Dental Officer, Michael Donaldson, has issued a letter to all General Dental Practitioners on the re-establishment of dental services in Northern Ireland. The letter outlines three phases of re-establishment and indicates that guidance for practitioners on re-establishment will be issued in the coming days.


On 8 June restrictions will not be lifted in Northern Ireland, but all practices will return to face-to-face urgent care. This will help maximise the number of patients with urgent care needs being seen. Practices will not be able to offer non-urgent care until phase two and there is no date set yet for when this second phase will begin. We will update you as soon as information becomes available.





Members: Returning to face-to-face care toolkit launches today


We have produced a toolkit for returning to face-to-face care to support you and your team to resume practising as safely and efficiently as possible.


This toolkit will provide members with the best possible advice on every stage of the process, so you can re-open with confidence.


This version is for practices in England. Other documents for the devolved nations will follow. We will keep this toolkit updated as new guidance and advice comes to light. Download it today to make sure you're prepared for the challenges ahead.





Business Interruption: FCA to move on legal test case


We have received news that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has identified representative samples of business interruption insurance policy wordings to be examined in a legal test case.


The BDA was the first trade union or professional body to directly engage with the FCA following the failure of most polices to pay out for losses incurred during the pandemic. While we welcome the news, we have expressed concern that the FCA's ‘one size fits all’ approach will fail to address the specific needs of our members.


While dentists in England can resume face-to-face patient care from 8 June, it follows 10 weeks of lockdown during which many practices have seen cashflow fall to zero.


We have also expressed concern that levels of capacity – owing to social distancing and infection control procedures – will be a fraction of pre-pandemic levels. Practices also face shortages and higher costs for vital personal protective equipment (PPE) with a consequential impact on revenue.


Our Chair Mick Armstrong has said: “This move looks like positive news for many businesses facing crippling losses during lockdown. The issues we have identified with our legal team remain and continue to affect our members' ability to claim under policies. To that end, the FCA still has many questions to answer."


Ravi Nayer, partner at law firm Brown Rudnick has commented: “Today's announcement continues to make clear that there can be no one size fits all court decision and, importantly, gives zero comfort on the question of whether challenges affecting certain businesses in the healthcare sector will be taken into account by the court.”





Your voice matters: Impact of COVID-19 on dentistry


You are invited to take part in a survey by the School of Dentistry in the University of Leeds aims to capture how COVID-19 has impacted dentists in primary care in the UK. It is part of a wider study organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which is asking similar questions of dentists all around the world. It should take ten minutes to complete and all submissions are anonymous.



Monday 1 June 2020



Guide for returning to work published by FGDP


The Faculty of General Dental Practice has today published a guide on returning to work, called the Implications of COVID-19 for the safe management of general dental practice. We were pleased to contribute to the development of this guide and urge you to review it.


We will be publishing our own comprehensive toolkit for returning to face-to-face practice tomorrow. This will contain additional and complementary practical advice for members. Our aim is to ensure dentists can return to work as safely and efficiently as possible.





Tomorrow’s webinar on COVID-19 and dentistry


We have partnered with the Royal Society of Medicine to bring you a webinar on COVID-19’s challenges for the dental profession. Taking place tomorrow at 17.00-18.00, it will:


  • Review the current knowledge of the viral load in the oral cavity
  • Address the future challenges of appropriate PPE for the dental team
  • Consider the challenges for general dental practice
  • Provide one hour of CPD.

Speakers will include:


  • Ms Deborah Bomfim, President, Odontology Section, Royal Society of Medicine
  • Dr Barry Quinn, Faculty of Dentistry, Oral and Cranio-facial Sciences, King's College London
  • Professor Stephen Challacombe, Martin Rushton Professor of Oral Medicine, King's College London
  • Professor Paul Coulthard, Dean, Dentistry and Institute Director, Institute of Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London
  • Mick Armstrong, Chair, British Dental Association.

Register before 14.00 tomorrow to secure your place.





Survey: Is your practice ready for 8 June?


We are surveying dental practice owners in England to investigate what challenges you are experiencing in getting ready for the potential resumption of face-to-face patient care from 8 June.


This survey should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete and will help us make the case to Government on what is needed to get back to providing effective and safe patient care.





NHS England contract arrangements to remain unchanged


Last week NHS England and the CDO for England, Sara Hurley confirmed that the temporary NHS contract arrangements, which include monthly payments to practices equivalent  to 1/12th of the annual contract value, would continue. 
In a letter on 28 May it was confirmed that these payments will remain unchanged, subject to variable costs abatement.  Contract holders should also assume that current conditions, for example paying associates, continue until you hear otherwise.


We are in on-going discussions with NHS England regarding how the contacts will be introduced for the rest of the 2020-21 financial year. In the meantime, practices should be reassured that their contract values will continue to be paid from 8 June and that these payments will not depend upon any specific level of care at that time or delivery of Units of Dental Activity (UDAs).
The NHS England letter also made clear that resumption of the full range of routine dental care would be risk-managed by the individual practice, who can decide whether or not to include aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs). That decision will reflect specific circumstances including practices being able to adopt the appropriate infection control and PPE requirements.


NHS England regional teams have been asked to work with local providers to agree the ongoing provision of urgent dental centres (UDCs). This will include support for practices unable to perform AGPs and assistance with any local dental access issues.





BDA Benevolent Fund webinar on finances and COVID-19
The BDA Benevolent Fund invite you to sign up for their up-coming webinar on financial advice. This free one hour webinar will take place this Thursday, 4 June, at 16.00. It aims to highlight the support that is available to dentists and dental students and provide you with tools to help you manage your personal finances during this difficult time. It will cover:


  • State Benefits
  • Self-employed support
  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards and loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Savings
  • Pensions, investments and insurances
  • General money-saving tips.





England: Important advice to be published for dentists


Dentists and their teams in England will be working frantically this week to decide when they can open for face-to-face treatment and what care they are able to provide. We anticipate the publication of three important pieces of advice and guidance to help in that decision-making either today or in the early part of the week:


  • Guidance from NHS England and the Office of the Chief Dental Officer, including a new Standard Operating Procedure
  • Implications of COVID-19 for the safe management of general dental practice: a practical guide from the Faculty of General Dental Practice
  • The BDA’s own COVID-19 special guidance on returning to routine care

We will update you as and when these are published.



25 - 31 May 2020

The English Government announced this week that dental practices could re-open from 8 June for face-to-face patient care, in contrast to the expected ‘phased’ approach of the other devolved nations. This has put the onus onto practices to decide if they are adequately equipped with the necessary PPE and infection prevention control before opening their doors again.


Scotland released a practice recovery toolkit this week, which practices in Scotland should use as the basis for reopening. The Welsh government also outlined out their final framework for a phased moving out of lockdown. Northern Ireland have yet to confirm next steps.


Read all the updates from week commencing 25 May 2020



18 - 24 May 2020

This week, restrictions began to be eased at varying rates across the UK. Unlimited outdoor exercise and some interaction between households has been allowed.

As a result of these developments, we know that many dental practices want to begin face-to-face care, and we saw progress in this area:


The Scottish Government outlined a four-phase route map through and out of the COVID-19 crisis.


Similarly, the Welsh Government have introduced a road-map describing the rationale for moving out of lockdown and away from the current red alert phase.


We continue to wait on clarity in England and Northern Ireland. However, in England the CQC confirmed its position that it cannot require providers of dental services to close unless it finds clear evidence of a breach of regulations.


We continue to advise members that a full risk assessment should be done by the practice and team, and treatment is provided only where it is safe to do so.

Read all the updates from week commencing 18 May 2020

11 - 17 May 2020

This week the DoH reported the lowest daily death-rate increase since the beginning of lockdown and the planning for a post-lockdown Britain was ramped up. While we reiterated the official message that nothing has changed for dental practices, we joined NHS England, the CDO and Health Minister for a new series of meetings addressing how we increase dental activity once restrictions ease.


We called on UK governments and employers to work with us to deliver our new nine-point blueprint for a safe return to work for NHS staff. We also took action on business interruption cover this week, by engaging the law firm Brown Rudnick LLP for legal advice on insurers not paying insurance claims made by dentists during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Self-employment Income Support Scheme went live this week and we received word that NHS England are considering possible regulatory changes to ensure that contract holders pass on anticipated payments to associates.


Read all the updates from week commencing 11 May 2020

4 - 10 May 2020

This week the global focus shifted to how dentistry will look post-lockdown. We are working with administrations around the world to outline how dentistry can move forward in a safe and effective manner when the current restrictions are lifted. Our board and our health and science committee are detailing how we prepare for that.


We submitted evidence to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee who are holding a new inquiry into delivering core NHS care services during the pandemic and beyond. Our focus was on the provision of dental care in the post-lockdown period.


The government finally acknowledged the shortages in PPE faced by our members working in England’s urgent care system. We've been urging Health Minister Jo Churchill to address PPE supply and she has confirmed the government are working to urgently resolve this ongoing issue.


We made progress in Northern Ireland regarding changes to the Financial Support Scheme (FSS) and continued to press the NHS for clarity around the NHS contractual frameworks particularly in regard to an abetment figure.


Read all the updates from week commencing 4 May 2020.


27 April - 3 May 2020

This week we held a minute's silence to commemorate health care workers who have died of COVID-19. Priority for your safety is still our main concern during this time.


Our campaign to help private practices continued to have an impact, as 28 Conservative MPs from across England reiterated our message in a new letter to the Chancellor asking for relief in business rates to be extended to mixed and private dental practices. The full impact of our campaign was detailed in CEO Martin Woodrow's new blog.


Talks continued with governments across the UK to develop position papers regarding the return to practice post-lockdown. We're working with NHS England to consider what clinical practice will look like, what PPE will be required, and what contractual systems we will need.


Our new furlough calculator went live to help members in mixed practices calculate the amount of money they're entitled to claim. We held a successful webinar - joined by over 800 members - covering financial packages, furloughing and the paying of associates in both NHS and mixed practices. The edited webinar is available to all members on our website.


Read all the updates for week commencing 27 April


20 - 26 April 2020

The PM returned to work this week after a fortnight recovering from COVID-19, and discussions turned to what life might look like post-lockdown.


PPE remained a dominant issue in the news as frustrations over supply intensified.  We secured widespread media coverage, including a segment on Radio 4's Today programme, regarding the frustrations felt by dentists working in urgent dental centres (UDC) with inadequate PPE. Our campaign for private practices also garnered cross party support as 101 MPs signed our letter calling on the government to address the risks faced by the dental industry.


We commenced discussions with administrations across the UK to outline how dentistry will resume in a safe and effective manner post-lockdown.


Read all the full updates for week commencing 20 April


13 -19 April 2020


The Easter weekend saw the UK death toll surpass 10,000, as shortages of Personal Protective Equipment continued. Dwindling supplies, particularly for front line health care workers, resulted in delays in opening urgent dental centres being set up in England. Meanwhile in Wales, over 1,400 patients have been seen and 23,000 consulted.


Revised Standard Operating Procedures were published by NHS England this week. We were disappointed to see that advice on PPE for non aerosol-generating procedures has not been changed. We continue to voice our concerns with the Health Minister with whom we are speaking on a regular basis. We collated evidence on PPE use via a survey seeking first hand experiences of dental staff in UDCs, and we continued to advocate for you and your patients safety.


This week we also launched our pay dispute resolution service for associates, and pushed MPs to consider the plight of private dentists.


Read all the updates for week commencing 13 April


6 - 12 April 2020


This week, the Prime Minster was hospitalised with Coronavirus and cases continued to rise nationwide.


Our CEO, Martin Woodrow, met with the Health Minister regarding the delay to urgent care centres in England. We also continued to push for more support for self-employed dentists and private practices. And we called on the GDC to waive the annual retention fee (ARF).


We are still waiting on four nations guidance on PPE and pushing for dental staff to be adequately protected. Long awaited guidance on redeployment for dental staff was published, and we answered many of your questions on our FAQ pages.


Dentists all over the UK volunteered to help the response.


Our advisory team extended their working hours over the Easter weekend to ensure our members get the best support possible.


Read all the updates for week commencing 6 April


30 March - 5 April 2020


PPE remains a huge issue this week as cases rise nationwide. We refuted official guidance that routine PPE is sufficient protection for non-aerosol-generating procedures. We provided members with a risk assessment tool especially for urgent care.


There was a breakthrough on funding this week, as the Scottish Government announced they would pay 80% of average income from terms of service and patient contributions to NHS dentists.


Dentists in England also received much anticipated confirmation that mixed practices can claim for furloughed workers and still receive their NHS income. We continue to push for Government to extend support to self-employed dentists and private practices, having taken the case to the Chancellor, Health Minister and HMRC.


This week we also kept 105,500 people informed of these changes through our Coronavirus webpages, one of which outlines the financial impact of the crisis on dentists. Our advice team answered record numbers of member queries, and our advisors made videos to answer some of your FAQs.


Urgent dental centres were set up in Wales, Scotland and NI. But there were  delays in England, which we took directly to the Minister.

Read all the updates for week commencing 30 March


23 - 29 March 2020


By the end of this week, over a thousand deaths had been recorded in the UK due to Coronavirus.


Wales became the first UK country to move to a Red Alert phase this week. This saw restrictions to all routine care and plans to open urgent dental centres announced. The rest of the UK soon followed.


With many practices all but closing, this was a stressful and confusing time for many dentists. We issued urgent advice regarding appropriate PPE and aerosol-generating procedures.


We campaigned for the Government to revise their financial strategy for self-employed workers. Much-awaited detail on the furlough workers scheme was finally published.


We continued to demand clarification on this in relation to NHS payments.


We put your concerns about redeployment  to the NHS directly via a form on our website.

Read all the full updates for week commencing 23 March


16 - 22 March 2020

This week saw a radical departure from normal life. COVID-19 was officially declared a global pandemic by WHO. Schools, restaurants and bars in the UK close. There was a significant reduction in routine dental treatment across the UK, and we demanded the Government confirm a financial support strategy for the dental sector.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged furloughing, loans and cash grants to come. We sought clarity on what this means for dentists in NHS, mixed and private practices. Early financial support measures were revealed in NI and Scotland and Wales updated their clinical advice. 

We urged NHS England to update their Standard Operating Procedures, which continued to assume little community transmission and referred primarily to travel history as an indicator. 

Once schools were closed, we pressed the Government to clarify if dentists and nurses were ‘key workers’. At every stage, we sought to ensure dentists were not forgotten.  

Read all the full updates for week commencing 16 March

9 - 15 March 2020


Britain saw its first eleven deaths from Coronavirus this week. 

There was widening concern about COVID-19 and the potential of impact on the UK. But much of normal life continued, as we awaited information from key Government COBRA meetings.

We focused on informing and protecting the dental profession. Our new Coronavirus pages were launched, to support dentists with the most up-to-date information, and our advisors were busy answering members' concerns.

The Chancellor pledged to offer ‘whatever it takes’ to support NHS services. We opened channels with the Government and NHS to work out how that would look for different dental groups, seen in the ‘2020 Budget’. 

Read all the full updates for week commencing 9 March