This follows on from the publication of the UK-wide Infection Prevention Control (IPC) dental appendix last week. The Department of Health is expected to publish the revised guidance once the re-establishment group, of which we will be part of, has concluded its work. For the time being, existing Operational Guidance remains in force in NI.
In England, the new guidance places patients on two pathways – respiratory and non-respiratory (rather than the traffic light system). On the non-respiratory pathway patients are treated in line with pre-COVID standard infection control precautions. The respiratory pathway will remain subject to enhanced precautions, including fallow time of up to an hour between treatments. Screening to determine the patient's pathway will take place both before attendance and on arrival at the practice.
Urgent advice is also being sought regarding Omicron and its implications for dentists working to the new Standard Operating Procedures in England, following the Prime Minister's press conference.
Likewise, patients in Scotland will be placed on one of two pathways given the likelihood of them carrying a respiratory illness. Those on the non-respiratory pathway can be managed in line with pre-COVID standard infection control precautions for non-aerosol generating procedures. However, for an aerosol generating procedure, enhanced precautions will still be required.
Any patient placed on the respiratory pathway and requiring urgent care will remain subject to enhanced precautions for all procedures.
We will continue to keep you updated on any new information regarding the revised operational guidance in Northern Ireland.