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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 23 October 2020




New IPC Guidance: What does it mean for dentistry in the UK


This week the revised infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance was published. 


In this video I discuss the five significant outcomes of the new IPC guidance and what it means for dentistry across the UK. 






Northern Ireland: Further £5m promised in support for GDS


Last week the Department of Health emailed all General Dental Practitioners in Northern Ireland to confirm that a further £5m in funding has been made available for the general dental services (GDS).


The funding, which covers the rest of the financial year, aims to offset the reduction in income from patient charges. This support matches the £5m of additional funding previously provided to fund the Financial Support Scheme since April 2020.


An incredible amount of work has gone into securing this additional funding which is key to maintaining FSS at around current levels in the months ahead. We continue to engage with officials around how best to track activity while avoiding unnecessary burdens being placed on practitioners.


We acknowledge the efforts of DoH officials in getting this significant funding bid over the line at a time when competition for government finances is becoming more intense.





Fallow time calculator launched


A free-to-use Fallow Time Calculator was recently launched to enable dental professionals to determine, justify and record the fallow period necessary following dental procedures carrying a higher risk of exposure to potentially-infectious aerosols.


It has been endorsed by the Chief Dental Officer for England and is designed to complement the recently updated COVID-19 guidance published by the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP) and the College of General Dentistry (CGDent), which incorporates the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) recommendations on fallow time.





Diversity in dentistry: One practice’s story


During Black History Month, Kay Dove, Managing Director of Dove Dental, shares her experience of re-opening her father’s dental practice and the importance of diversity and representation in dentistry.


“There are very few Black-owned dental practices in the UK… Our practice is in Earlsfield, south west London but some of our patients come from as far away as Leicester and Hertfordshire. It might seem somewhat extreme, to take a round trip of more than two hours for a dental check-up, but this shows the desire that’s out there for more diversity and representation in dentistry.


“Particularly now, after the Black Lives Matter protests, there’s a growing awareness of the importance of diversity and representation. Promoting diversity in the profession is important for oral health reasons too. Indeed, we believe that the low numbers of Black dentists in the UK, contribute to the country’s oral health inequalities.”





Wales: CDO updates dentists on arrangements during 'firebreak'
In advance of the imminent 'firebreak' restrictions taking effect from 6pm today until 00:01 on Monday 9 November, the CDO for Wales, Dr Colette Bridgman has written to all primary care dental teams in Wales.
The letter confirms that dental care services will continue during the forthcoming period using the current SOP and that dental teams offering NHS dental care provision should focus on provision of urgent care and address delayed and postponed treatment; for everyone not just previous routine attenders.
"It is important that we in the dental community of Wales contribute to First Minister’s ‘short and deep’ firebreak principles by not encouraging unnecessary travel for routine check-up appointments that can, and should be, delayed."



Thursday 22 October 2020



Plan for jobs: Further failure on support for the self-employed


Today the chancellor has unveiled further support plans for jobs and workers hit by COVID-19 restrictions, through changes to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and Job Support Scheme (JSS).


SEISS grants are now being offered to support those who experience reduced demand due to COVID-19 but are continuing to trade, or temporarily cannot trade. However, by sticking to flawed eligibility criteria - in the shape of the £50,000 cap - it appears the SEISS package will continue to leave any self-employed dentists who experience a fall in income without needed support.


We are yet to see the impact new restrictions are having on footfall in practices, but it means colleagues with low to no NHS earnings could be left dangerously exposed as we head into winter.


The JSS scheme has seen some welcome changes. Employers will pay less, and staff can work fewer hours before they qualify, while the taxpayer subsidy has been doubled.


We continue to challenge the £50k cap and lobby for improved financial support for self-employed dentists. We will update you when more information is available.





Access your account before 31 October


Dentists are asked to make sure that you access your email address before the end of October 2020. From the end of October, any email addresses that have not been accessed in the last 90 days (excluding the new practice email addresses) will be deleted.


Don’t miss out. Your email account is a secure way to communicate with colleagues and NHS Local offices. It gives you wider access to the Microsoft Office 365 suite, allowing you to:


  • Talk to and collaborate with NHSmail colleagues from different organisations and locations
  • Setup audio and video conference meetings in Exchange Online
  • Create a Teams site for project work, upload files and collaborate using persistent chat features
  • Download and access Teams features on your mobile device.





England: NHS Employers update wellbeing resources


It's essential that NHS organisations continue to support the physical and mental wellbeing of the workforce, enabling staff to stay healthy and protect themselves, their colleagues, patients and families during this challenging time.


Resources to help you support the heath, wellbeing and safety of NHS staff have recently been updated by NHS Employers. These resources are designed to support those employed by NHS organisations in England.





Wales: Dentistry included as a vital health service


During the current firebreak lockdown in Wales, patients may still travel for dentistry which has now been included in the list of vital health services in the Wales Firebreak FAQS.


In the section titled 'Can I still access health services?' it says the following:


NHS Wales is still here to help you if you need care, and it’s important you continue to attend appointments and seek help for urgent medical issues. You can leave your home to access local health services, including your GP surgery, dentist, optometrist or other health service. You should phone beforehand and follow any guidance your local surgery, dentist, optometrist or health service has put in place to protect you and staff, including the need to keep 2m away from other patients whilst waiting to be seen.





Northern Ireland: Revised operational guidance issued


Revised operational guidance has been published following the SDCEP's recent rapid review. We welcome the possibility of reduced fallow times. However, this is not a silver bullet.


A return to pre-pandemic levels of activity should not be expected due to fallow times remaining, social distancing measures and the physical demands of working under level 2 PPE.


Our members of the GDS Re-establishment Group have urged local policy-makers to be measured in their expectations of how the revised guidance should be interpreted.



Wednesday 21 October 2020



Updated guidance on safe use of X-ray equipment


The Faculty of General Dental Practitioners has published updated guidance for dental practitioners on the safe use of X-ray equipment.


Originally published in 2001, it set out the administrative and practical matters that must be addressed within a dental practice to ensure good standards of radiation protection. The updated guidance takes into account more recent developments in dental X-ray equipment, imaging technology and legislation.




Using the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace App


Dentists continue to have questions around how to use the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace App while at work. The guidance advises that you:


  • Download the NHS COVID-19 app to help the fight against coronavirus
  • Use the pause contact-tracing function on the app when you are in dental surgeries (as you are working in highly specialised environment, trained in infection prevention and control processes, and wearing medical grade PPE as required)
  • You can still use some of the app’s functionality while the app contact-tracing feature is paused, if you wish.

Further questions on how healthcare workers can use the NHS COVID-19 app are answered on the NHS Test and Trace website. Please distribute the full guidance to your staff.





PPE VAT exemption should remain


We have warned the Chancellor that failure to extend the VAT exemption for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will heap further pressures on health and social care providers already facing an uncertain future.


In an open letter, we called for an urgent change in approach. This included the extension of the VAT free period, enabling health and social care providers to reclaim VAT on expenses, and even potential abolition.


VAT on PPE was made exempt to "relieve the burden of VAT on the price of purchasing PPE used for protection from coronavirus by front line workers." Nothing has changed to warrant the return of the normal rate. We will update you on progress made.



Tuesday 20 October 2020



Fallow time: New IPC guidance published


Tonight the revised UK-wide infection prevention control (IPC) guidance for NHS, private and independent dental settings was published. The revised guidance reflects the recommendations made in the SDCEP report last month, particularly in relation to fallow time and aerosol-generating procedures.


We anticipate that this guidance will now be incorporated into national standard operating procedures by the four nations. We will also be amending our own Return to Face-to-Face Care toolkits in light of these changes imminently.


Members will be notified when the revised toolkits are available for download.





Webinar: 'Selfie' isolation: dental photography in a crisis


There's still time to sign up to this webinar taking place tomorrow night (21 October) from 19:30 - 20:30.


The webinar will provide a practical overview of the applications for photography in dentistry and an update on the latest equipment and techniques that are available to optimise dental photography and virtual consultations in the COVID-19 era.


If you've any queries, contact our events team by email or by calling 0207 563 4590.





England: NHS contract discussions continue


We know that dentists and their teams across England have been anticipating changes to the current NHS contractual arrangements, which were announced back in July. Indeed, many of you were expecting new arrangements to start from the beginning of October.


Discussions are on-going between the BDA and NHS England about how the contractual provisions might change. There has been a lot of ground to cover and much dialogue around what level of activity can reasonably be expected given ongoing constraints. Please be assured that we will not accept any changes that are not safe and fair, for practices and patients.


We are expecting to be able to update you soon. In the meantime, practices should continue to deliver care in line with the current Standard Operating Procedure and it is important that you continue to commit the same amount of time to NHS care as previously.





Scotland: Oral health inequalities will widen without action


Decades of progress on children’s dental health may be lost as COVID pushes unacceptable inequalities to new levels. The latest report of the National Dental Inspection Programme, published today, shows that Primary 1 children from the most deprived communities experience more than four times the level of tooth decay compared to their counterparts in the least deprived areas (1.78 versus 0.40 decayed, missing or filled teeth per child).


The average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth per child reduced from 2.76 in 2002/03 to 1.04 in 2019/20. However, we’ve warned that stark and persistent inequalities will widen as a result of the pandemic, given the collapse in access to routine services, the suspension of public health programmes and the impact of sugar-rich lockdown diets.


The pioneering Childsmile programme has been paused since Scotland first entered lockdown in March. The Childsmile Executive group has been working on a remobilisation plan but timings will depend on levels of COVID-19 in the community.


While NHS practices will be permitted to perform a full range of treatment from 1 November, practices will be operating at a fraction of their former capacity. It is anticipated the reintroduction of the pre-COVID funding model for dentistry will decimate NHS practices, in light of ongoing restrictions, higher costs and reduced patient numbers. GPs in Scotland are still being funded to pre-pandemic level.





COVID-19 and flu vaccinations this winter


New laws allowing more healthcare workers to administer flu and potential COVID-19 vaccines have been introduced. These laws widen the range of healthcare professionals who can administer the vaccine, to include: independent nurses, allied healthcare professionals, paramedics, physiotherapists, pharmacists and student nurses and doctors.


We anticipate that this could include dentists and teams, but this has not yet been confirmed. We would be happy for dental teams to be involved in this life saving work, subject to funding and indemnity coverage. We also hope that free vaccinations would be made available to those administering them as part of this scheme.





CQC calls for a fairer, better health system


The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified inequalities in health and social care, according to the Care Quality Commission’s latest report published on Friday.

The state of health care and adult social care in England 2019/20 highlights that there were already significant gaps in access to dental services before COVID, and that it will be some time before full capacity is reached.


It echoes our long-standing concerns regarding PPE access and guidance, which should have been timelier and more effective.


The report pays tribute to the way in which the sector has adapted, while concluding that, in terms of planning and system-wide governance, oral health in most areas was not even seen to be an "integral part of the system".


“COVID is magnifying inequalities across the health and care system – a seismic upheaval which has disproportionately affected some more than others and risks turning fault lines into chasms” said CQC Chief Executive Ian Trenholm.


"As we adjust to a COVID age, the focus must be on shaping a fairer health and care system – both for people who use services, and for those who work in them."




Monday 19 October 2020



Wales: 'Firebreak' lockdown announced today


We have been in regular contact with the CDO for Wales, Dr Colette Bridgman, regarding the imminent 'firebreak lockdown' announced today by the Welsh Government to take effect from 6pm on Friday 23 October.


Dr Bridgman is getting confirmation from the Welsh Government that dentistry is included within the definition of essential travel for healthcare. The CDO will be sending another letter this week providing guidance on dentistry during the firebreak lockdown and will be updating the BDA with further details.


The CDO has repeatedly confirmed that the current amber SOP is sufficient for local lockdowns and anticipates the SOP will not change for the circuit break lockdown.


Dr Bridgman expects practices to continue to offer urgent and essential care to patients according to capacity and protocol, including remote care where appropriate. Any patients with urgent dental needs but with suspected or potential COVID-19 infection will need to be referred directly to the urgent dental centres (UDCs).


We will update you with more news as soon as we can.





England: Free PPE for NHS providers


Members are reminded that PPE is available to NHS providers and orderable every seven days via the PPE portal. To calculate the portal’s order limit, practices need to calculate their number of units of dental activity (UDAs) plus number of units of orthodontic activity (UOAs), if any, multiplied by 1.5 per practice per year.


Providers should have received an invitation to register sent to your email account registered with Care Quality Commission (CQC), NHS Business Services Authority (BSA), NHS England or the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).





Black history month at the BDA Library


To mark Black history month and as part of a long-standing effort to improve the diversity of our library’s collections, we are building an archive of Black and ethnic minority dental history in the UK.


One such story is that of Edward Tull-Warnock, who may have been one of Britain's first Black, qualified, professional dentists in 1912. Stories like Edward’s shed an important light on the history of dentists in the UK.


If you have/had a family member or know of dentists or members of the dental team who have played a part in dental history, please share their story with the BDA Library.





How can we tackle racism in dentistry?


Sadly, racism remains an ever-present reality for many of our colleagues and is deep-rooted in our culture. Issues that have come to the surface in dentistry, the impact of the pandemic on ethnic minorities and international events around Black Lives Matter, have made this clear.


That's why, we’re committed to tackling racism within dentistry. In his most recent blog, BDA President Russ Ladwa discusses racism in dentistry and how we can combat it.





Sign up to our up-coming webinars


Our popular series of COVID-19 webinars continues, with up-coming webinars on a variety of subjects. Don’t miss out, register your place today:





Pregnancy and COVID-19: Risk assessments


Health and safety regulations require employers to reduce risks particular to pregnant colleagues, including risks of catching communicable diseases such as coronavirus, where these risks are higher in the workplace.


That’s why, we’ve produced a series of risk assessments for members, to support dentists and their teams to keep safe during this challenging time:


Pregnant - in patient-facing clinical role

Pregnant - in patient-facing administrative role

Pregnant - in non-patient-facing administrative role

Pregnant - in non-patient-facing decontamination/cleaning role



October 2020

Read our live updates to find out more:


Full updates from week commencing 5 October 2020


Full updates from week commencing 12 October 2020


Full updates from week commencing 19 October 2020


September 2020

Read our live updates to find out more:


Full updates from week commencing 1 September 2020


Full updates from week commencing 7 September 2020


Full updates from week commencing 14 September 2020


Full updates from week commencing 21 September 2020


Full updates from week commencing 28 September 2020




August 2020

Read our live updates from August to find out more:


Full updates from week commencing 03 August 2020


Full updates from week commencing 10 August 2020


Full updates from week commencing 17 August 2020


Full updates from week commencing 24 August 2020


July 2020

Read our live updates from July to find out more:


Full updates from week commencing 6 July 2020


Full updates from week commencing 13 July 2020


Full updates from week commencing 20 July 2020


Full updates from week commencing 27 July 2020



June 2020

In June dental practices in England reopened, however PPE shortages, cash flow and childcare made the return difficult for many. Non-AGP care resumed in Scotland, as private practices began to re-open. Wales and Northern Ireland also saw an expansion of care, as restrictions were slowly lifted across the country.


We launched a toolkit for returning to face-to-face care to help our members re-open safely and efficiently. Over 6,000 members downloaded it in the first day for advice on issues such as social distancing in practice, PPE, fit-testing and employment issues.


We presented evidence of the catastrophic impact of the pandemic on dentistry to the House of Commons' Health select Committee, and pushed for clarify on financial support in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh. We also secured widespread media coverage for dentists' concerns.


Read our live updates from June to find out more:


Full updates for week commencing 1 June

Full updates for week commencing 8 June

Full updates for week commencing 15 June

Full updates for week commencing 22 June

Full updates for week commencing 29 June

May 2020

In May, as lockdown continued and death rates fell, we helped members prepare for the re-opening of dental practices.  


In England it was announced that practices could re-open from 8 June, in contrast to the phased re-opening announced In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We developed a risk assessment tool and advised members on how to return-to-work safely and efficiently. 


We also took action on business interruption cover 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.  


Our campaigns for PPE and financial support made progress, but government continued to drag its feet in supporting self-employed and private dentists, so we continued to push on your behalf at a national and regional level.  

Full updates for week commencing 4 May

Full updates for week commencing 11 May

Full updates for week commencing 18 May

Full updates for week commencing 25 May

April 2020

Coronavirus cases continued to rise in April, with the death-toll surpassing 10,000 by Easter weekend. Urgent dental centres (UDCs) were set up across the country. Shortages of PPE for frontline health care workers resulted in delays, particularly in England. 


We fought to support members and petition the government on issues ranging from PPE availability, to the financial sustainability of dentistry. We pushed MPs and secured widespread media coverage on these issues. Our campaign for private practices garnered cross-party support with 101 MPs signing our letter calling on the government to consider the plight of dentists. Dentists across the UK volunteered to help the response and were redeployed across NHS services.  


We developed tools for members, such as our furlough calculator, webinars on financial issues and an extensive FAQ page in response to member questions. 

Full updates for week commencing 6 April

Full updates for week commencing 13 April

Full updates for week commencing 20 April

Full updates for week commencing 27 April

March 2020

In March 2020 we saw a radical departure from normal life in the UK. The COVID-19 outbreak led to schools, restaurants and bars being closed and unprecedented restrictions were placed on dental treatment.  


From the start, we demanded the Government confirm a financial support strategy for the dental sector. Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged furloughing, loans and cash grants. But we sought clarity on support for NHS and mixed practices and we consistently pushed for Government to extend support to self-employed dentists and private practices. 


Wales became the first UK country to move to red alert status, which saw restrictions to all routine care and plans to open urgent dental centres (UDCs) announced. Scotland and Northern Ireland soon followed, however, there were delays in England, which we took directly to the Minister.  


With many practices all but closing, this was a stressful and confusing time for many dentists. Our advice team answered record numbers of member queries and we launched our Coronavirus advice pages to update you on the latest developments.

Full updates for week commencing 9 March

Full updates for week commencing 16 March

Full updates for week commencing 23 March  

Full updates for week commencing 30 March