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Update on PPE, ventilation and private practice guidance

In the last week, we have received updates on a variety of important points, including PPE supply, funding for ventilation upgrades and guidance for private practices.

Regarding PPE, NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) have confirmed that the current arrangements for supplying dental practices with a limited amount of free PPE will be extended to the end of June. This should provide some reassurance about the continued supply of PPE to practices. It comes after our extensive work with NSS on PPE supplies for dentists, including reported problems with local communication and provision.

Regarding ventilation, the Scottish Government has admitted that ventilation is a fundamental part of the "COVID armoury" - despite recent suggestions the new Health Minister is unwilling to set aside dedicated funding.

We've seen capital funding of £450,000 made available by the Welsh Government to help cut fallow time considerably and allow more patients to be seen. We need to see similar leadership in Scotland. When asked about this issue in a press briefing this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "I'm unsure if the funding arrangements around dentists are exactly the same in Scotland and Wales but we will look into it."

David McColl, Chair of our Scottish Dental Practice Committee, has made our position clear: "Dental practices still face tight restrictions that have radically reduced the number of patients we can treat. At the very least, dentists need clear guidance from the Scottish Government about what they should be doing about ventilation."

The status of, and restrictions on, wholly private practices were also confirmed in the last week. The National Clinical Director and Chief Dental Officer issued a joint letter to confirm that dentistry is essential healthcare and that wholly independent or private practices can deliver a comparable service to that available through the NHS.

This letter also clarified that, cosmetic or aesthetic procedures are not regarded as essential and must not be provided by any practice in Level 4 areas. We had received queries from members about an apparent contradiction between what could be provided under private and NHS dentistry, and this letter should help to clarify the issue.