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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 28 January 2022

17:41


England: National Standards of Healthcare Cleanliness


As the deadline for the National Standards of Healthcare Cleanliness approaches in April 2022, we have spoken out against the introduction of additional bureaucracy for NHS practices in England. 


The required cleaning is already being done by practices, so this mandatory requirement only serves to place additional administrative burdens on NHS practices, when they have to deal with mandatory vaccination issues and NHS targets.


At present, if NHS practices in England are not compliant with these regulations by April, then they need to explain in writing with an action plan to NHS England. That's why, we're preparing advice for members, which will cover:


  • Carrying out a technical audit (which checks and scores cleanliness against standard); and 
  • Carrying out an efficacy audit (which checks the level of the cleaning process at the point of service delivery)
  • Creating a "commitment to cleanliness" charter. 

NHS England also advises practices to have a third (external) audit which is to provide a quality assurance of the other two audits – some private companies have offered their services and members can, of course, use these; however, it is not compulsory and members might set up reciprocal arrangements with other practices, providing "managers that do not know each other are involved and geographical distance separates them".


This issue is compulsory for NHS practices, but totally private are "encouraged to participate in the programme."  We've asked NHS England to, at the very least, delay the introduction of this additional red tape.




15:11


Northern Ireland: £5m Revenue Grant Scheme for dental practices


£5m has been made available to dental practices in Northern Ireland for a Revenue Grant Scheme 2021/22, funded by The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB). Each dental practice will receive an individual letter by post, detailing your allocated funding amount together with the application form required.


This RGS funding will be targeted at the Covid response to improve patient safety, practice efficiency, and improve the resilience of practices in order to mitigate against future transmission of aerosol based respiratory diseases, and other infectious diseases.


The HSCB have calculated each practice grant using a capitation formula based on the available funding and the number of GDS registered patients in a practice in January 2022. The BSO have supplied HSCB with registration figures for all NI GDS dental practices.


The funding for this scheme is in addition to the existing GDS budget and must be fully utilised by 31 March 2022.


It is imperative that all the claims for this funding are received by 4 March 2022 – before the end of the financial year.


This is a very tight turnaround; therefore, we recommend that practices follow the scheme application instructions carefully in order to secure their grant allocation. Details can be found in Annex 2 and Annex 3.


For Oral Surgery and Orthodontic practices, which accept patients on a referral-only basis, an equivalent number of patient registrations will be calculated according to the average number of GDS sessions delivered by the practice per week during January 2022.




13:34


GDPC: Committee Chair and Vice Chairs re-elected 

 

Shawn Charlwood has been re-elected as Chair of the General Dental Practice Committee. He is joined by Shiv Pabary and Vijay Sudra, both re-elected as Vice-Chairs, and on the GDPC executive team by Mark Green, Joe Hendron, Judith Husband and Agi Tarnowski. 

 

In a message to the profession, he said: "Like the Minister, I want to see our dentists being valued and rewarded for the work they do. And I for one am determined to meet words with actions." 




11:38

 

England: Face masks still required

 

In England, dental practices are reminded that despite the change in public guidance regarding mask wearing, Infection Prevention and Control guidelines remain in place across all healthcare settings. This includes the need for universal use of face masks for staff and face masks or coverings for all patients and visitors (unless exempt) and physical distancing of at least one metre.

 


 

10:07

 

England: Get your MP to speak up for dentistry

 

We've helped secure a major debate on access to NHS dentistry in Parliament on 10 February.

 

We're now asking all dentists working in GDS in England to write to their MP now to highlight the issues dentists are facing, and the impact on their patients. It just takes five minutes. You can find the email details of your MP here.

 

Five things to consider: 

 

Your story can be powerful. Show how the crisis this service now faces is impacting on your practice and the patients you treat: 

 

  1. We face an access crisis. Over 38 million appointments have been lost since lockdown, and oral health inequality is set to widen. Explain what you're seeing, and how you are struggling to deal with an unprecedented backlog. 
  2. Dentistry is hanging by a thread. An exodus is in motion. Morale is at an all-time low and many dedicated NHS colleagues are now looking to the exit. 
  3. We need real reform. Dentists are working to a contract that punishes colleagues – 12 years after it was promised, we need to finally see a contract that recognises and rewards commitment and prevention. 
  4. We can't rebuild the service on an ever-shrinking budget. The government has just offered £50 million in time-limited funding. This is no more than a sticking plaster. After a decade of savage cuts, we need fair funding to underpin a new system.  
  5. Get them to take action. Ask your MP to commit to attend and speak up about this in Parliament on 10 February at 13.30.

 When emailing your MP you must include your postcode, and please copy in campaigns@bda.org so we can follow this up with them on your behalf.

 

Please do also get in touch through campaigns@bda.org if you need any advice, guidance, or data on your local area.


We will continue to keep up the pressure in Parliament and the press. 

 


 

Thursday 27 January 2022

17:02


England and Wales: National Clinical Excellence Awards 2022


The Department of Health and Social Care and the Welsh Government consultation on revising the National Clinical Excellence Awards in England and Wales, has completed. The response published yesterday recognised the need for all eligible consultants to be able to apply for awards. These awards will now focus on clinical impact, and therefore be called the National Clinical Impact Awards. 


Two key themes of the review were looking at ways to encourage wider participation from under-represented groups and simplify the process for both consultants and employers. Changes include:


  • Employers will still need to approve awards but not score or rank consultant applications
  • Awards will be held for 5 years without an annual renewal, but will be non-pensionable and non-consolidated 
  • There will be three level of awards
  • A new fifth domain has been added to allow applicants to demonstrate a "national impact from other unremunerated activities or where they have delivered impact over and above expectations" 
  • Those in less than full time (LTFT) roles will not have their post 2022 award pro-rated. 

More detail is expected to be published in advance of the 2022 round opening in the spring. 


We remain a nominating body and will consider applications for support from members, based on their contribution to the Association and its local or national activities. We would encourage all eligible consultants to consider applying, whether you seek support from us or not. 




16:11


Scotland: Scottish Government funded PPE extended to March 2023


A reminder to dental practices that the Scottish Government confirmed in December that they will continue to fund provision of PPE for NHS dentistry until March 2023. The Government previously committed to provide PPE until the end of March 2022 and Ministers agreed to extend the current arrangements for up to a year, subject to current guidance still being in place. National Services Scotland (NSS) will keep PPE arrangements under review throughout the year, with a view to introducing lasting arrangements that align with longer-term post-pandemic plans.




15:31


England: Local Clinical Excellence Awards 2022


The Local Clinical Excellence Award Scheme arrangement in place in England since 2018 has been rolled over again for the next financial year 2022. All funds should be equally distributed among all eligible consultants again this year. This will be a one‐off, non‐consolidated payment in place of a normal LCEA round. 


More information on how the payment is calculated and information on the tripartite agreement is available on the NHS Employers website. The LCEA is a contractual requirement as set out in schedule 30 of the terms and conditions of service for consultants in England.




12:09


England: Contact details for local commissioners published


The NHS BSA has published a new list of contact details for local commissioners. This should make it clearer as to who you should contact when making exceptional circumstances claims or raising other issues. 


For covid-related staff absences, claims need to be submitted to nhsbsa.dentalcases@nhs.net with your local commissioners copied in. 




10:42


England: Additional exceptional circumstances

 

NHS England recently announced additional exceptional circumstances arrangements to provide further support to practices hit by Covid-related staff absences in the Omicron wave. Where patient activity is lost due to a staff absence as a direct result of COVID-19 or due to self-isolation from 1 December 2021 to 31 March 2022, contractors will be able to submit a claim for this lost activity to be credited to the contract.

 

Contractors will need to promptly notify commissioners within five working days of the absence using the template available from the BSA and submit it to the BSA (nhsbsa.dentalcases@nhs.net) with regional commissioners copied in. Retrospective claims for December and early January must be submitted by 31 January in order to be considered.




Wednesday 26 January 2022

16:08


Library: 50 hours of verifiable CPD with our eBook quizzes


Members can now earn up to 50 hours of CPD through our eBooks CPD quizzes.


Our collection of eBooks cover a broad range of dental subjects, encouraging wider thinking and keeping knowledge current. Popular titles include, Cawson's Essentials of oral pathology and oral medicine, Paediatric dentistry, Pickard's Guide to minimally invasive operative dentistry, Infection control in primary dental care and more.


Five new titles have recently been added to the collection:


  • Fixed orthodontic appliances: a practical guide [BDJ Clinician's Guide]
  • Periodontology (4th edition) [BDJ Clinician's Guide]
  • Textbook of oral cancer - prevention, diagnosis and management
  • Risk assessment in oral health - a concise guide for clinical application
  • Practical procedures in the management of tooth wear.

Each title is provided with 20 multiple choice questions worth 2 hours CPD, allowing you to earn up to 50 hours CPD on completion.




14:40


Northern Ireland: 2022 branch programme launched


Our 2022 Northern Ireland Branch programme has been launched and paper copies are currently landing with members. 


This year's programme of CPD events aims to deliver maximum benefit to dental professionals with engaging thought-leadership from some inspiring speakers.


BDA Northern Ireland Branch President, Peter Crooks, said: "In developing this CPD programme for 2022, I am hoping we will be encouraged to do something different, perhaps learn a new technique for our clinical practice, look at dentistry with a wider perspective or consider if our skills could be valued further afield."


We're also planning a variety of social events to provide you with excellent networking opportunities and peer support throughout the year. 




11:31


CPD certified webinar: Managing stress in dentistry 

 

Almost half of dentists say stress in their job is exceeding their ability to cope. To help you, we're holding a CPD certified webinar tomorrow, Thursday 27 January 2022 at 19:30, led by psychotherapist Anthony Asquith.

 

This session will cover:

 

  • How to tackle worry and stress head on
  • Stress management strategies 
  • How to work more productively and sustainably.

We also encourage you to make use of the UK-wide resources available to help you manage stress. Whether you want advice, counselling or simply a listening ear, there are many services there to support you.




Tuesday 25 January 2022

16:19


Scotland: New data highlights NHS dentistry access crisis


We have called on the Scottish Government to support NHS dentistry in addressing the large reduction in patients visiting the dentist, as new data reveals further decreases in attendance and widening inequalities. 


Participation rates have continued to fall due to ongoing restrictions imposed on dental practices since the beginning of the pandemic. In September 2021, just over half of registered patients (52.6%) had seen an NHS dentist within the last two years, a considerable reduction from almost two-thirds (65.1%) in 2020. 

Oral health inequalities between the most and least deprived areas in Scotland also continue to grow, with the new data showing record gaps in participation rates.


We have repeatedly warned that lower levels of participation will reduce the chance of picking up early signs of decay and oral cancers at routine check-ups and delays in treatment will mean higher costs to the NHS and worse outcomes for patients. The Government needs to listen to the concerns of the profession. Failure to act risks sparking an exodus from the workforce that will leave families across Scotland losing access to NHS dentistry for good.




12:02


Vicarious liability: Updated associate agreements

 

Some practice owners are concerned about the impact of vicarious liability. Issues with vicarious liability are best avoided by good recruitment and clinical audit practices, combined with excellent patient complaint handling. However, we have made updates to our associate agreements to assist in cases where claims are brought against a practice owner for the actions of an associate, which may give some protection to the practice.


There are some safeguards for the associate. But these changes require the associate to indemnify the practice against claims relating to the associate's performance or conduct. These clauses should be helpful if the associate is contactable and has assets that can be used to meet any claims. If an associate is not contactable, they may help by authorising the practice owner to trigger the associate's indemnity insurance on the associate's behalf.

 

It is difficult for indemnity providers to provide written confirmation that these clauses will be effective. We have had discussions with RSA, who are the insurers for BDA Indemnity. We believe that these clauses are likely to be helpful for our policy holders.

 

Members should note that BDA Indemnity provides cover for vicarious liability. Members wishing to obtain further information should email indemnity@bda.org




10:00


England: NHS survey on compulsory vaccinations


NHS England is currently running a survey to establish the COVID vaccination status of dentists and their teams in England ahead of the scheduled introduction of compulsory vaccinations across healthcare from April. The survey remains open until Friday. 




08:21


England: Funding boost for NHS dentistry is only part of the solution


NHS England has today pledged an extra £50 million for dentists to provide additional urgent care for NHS patients. Funding will be available until the end of March and will be paid on a sessional basis. 

 

These new funds represent much-needed progress, but this time-limited package can only be the start when it comes to rebuilding NHS Dentistry and tackling an unprecedented backlog.

 

For the NHS GDS, the stated focus is new urgent care capacity. An enhanced sessional rate will therefore be paid for care provided before or after core hours. For community dentists, this funding will be used to buy additional sessions to help deal with the growing backlog. We are developing advice for members about payment arrangements for this work.




Monday 24 January 2022

15:01


Library: eBooks to support your wellbeing 


Our online library offers a wide range of eBook titles, including wellness books that can help you take care of your mental and physical health. Read:


If you are experiencing stress at work, we also encourage you to make use of the UK-wide resources available to help you manage stress. Whether you want advice, counselling or simply a listening ear, there are many services available to support your mental health and wellbeing.




12:25


Good Practice: Contextual safeguarding course


Contextual safeguarding shifts the way that child protection is considered and addressed. Our exclusive course for Good Practice members introduces the concept of contextual safeguarding and how dental practices can play a role.


GPS members should contact goodpractice@bda.org for their enrolment key. 




11:29


Northern Ireland: Ciara Gallagher elected Committee Chair


The Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee (NI DPC) has elected Ciara Gallagher as chair at its first meeting for 2022-2025. She brings over 25 years' experience to the role of NI DPC chair, and is now the sole owner of a mixed seven-surgery dental practice in Downpatrick:


"The next three years will be crucial for the survival of health service dentistry in Northern Ireland. NI DPC has both challenges and opportunities ahead, as we embark on negotiations for a new health service contract for general dental services for our population."


Philip McLorinan and Helen Brogan have been elected Vice Chairs. 




10:51


Northern Ireland: Staff who are confirmed cases of COVID-19


HSC workers who test positive for COVID-19 will be able to leave self-isolation and return to work if they test negative on days 5 and 6 after the date that symptoms started, or the date of their initial positive test, whichever is sooner. 


For full details see the Chief Medical Officer's letter dated 21 January.



 

 

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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:

 

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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

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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.

 

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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

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