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Dental services set to continue in second lockdown

Dental services will remain open throughout the current national lockdown, and the public health measures announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday will permit travel for access to dental care, NHS England confirmed earlier this week.

While we are pleased with this outcome for dentistry, we have urged the Government to deliver better communications after the belated confirmation from Downing street that dental services in England can remain open.

It was not until Monday of this week, two days after the period of increased restrictions were announced, that we finally had confirmation in regard to dentistry.

The Chief Dental Office for England, Sara Hurley, confirmed that practices should remain open to treat patients in line with the recently revised standard operating procedure and with regard to the national infection prevention control dental appendix.

Practices had reported deep uncertainty and have already received high volumes of patient queries regarding the status of appointments.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, we had been seeking urgent clarification on the status of dental services, given the suspension of face-to-face care during the first lockdown.

However, we were pleased that not only is dentistry recognised as an essential service, but the office of the CDO also confirmed that dentists and their teams are essential workers. This confirmation comes from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) who recognise that dental teams who are supporting the NHS and maintaining dental care provision, do meet the definition of essential workers. Significantly, this means dentists in England can receive prioritised COVID testing, a confirmation we have been calling for.

Our Chair, Eddie Crouch has said “We finally have confirmation that all dental practices will stay open during the coming lockdown. Given the rigorous safety protocols we are working to, there never should have been any doubt.

At times like this Downing Street has a responsibility to keep its own departments, agencies, and healthcare workers in the loop. Failure to do so has sent the wrong message to millions of patients who need our care, and to practices struggling to stay afloat.”

While it is positive news that dentistry can remain open during the current lockdown, it must be acknowledged that due to ongoing COVID restrictions, many practices continue to operate at a fraction of their former capacity. We have urged patients that dental care is safe and to continue to seek care as required.