England: New Standard Operating Procedure published with update on fallow time
03 September 2020
Last week the CDO for England, Sara Hurley, wrote to practices to announce the updated Urgent Dental Care and Transition to Recovery Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in England.
The updated framework reiterates the requirement that, while we operate against a backdrop of sustained community transmission, we continue to adhere to fallow time guidance as published by Public Health England (PHE). This is sixty minutes in a neutral pressure room which is what most dental surgeries are.
However, there was one notable clarification. Practices are informed that a reduced figure of 20 minutes of fallow time is feasible if they can achieve 10-12 air changes per hour (ACH) in a single room using ventilation systems.
We welcomed this pragmatic approach as a step in the direction of improving the capacity of dentists providing services to patients, and we look forward to more guidance as things develops.
In particular, we anticipate the imminent publication of the SDCEP report which should provide further clarity and detail, including options for practices that cannot comply with the 10-12 ACH recommendation.
The CDO’s letter signposts practices to further guidance on case definitions of COVID-19 as well as important changes on quarantine advice which will affect both staff and patients in the coming months. Practices can sign up to email alerts for countries and territories taken off or added to the travel corridor.
The CDO’s letter confirms that primary care dentistry is in the ‘medium risk pathways’. It also confirms that the sessional use of PPE items has been minimised - this only applies to extended use of facemasks for non-healthcare staff. Furthermore, it includes further guidance on pathway principles for clinically vulnerable patients, isolation requirements and quarantine advice.
We welcome the recognition of the impact that COVID19 is having on the health and wellbeing of the dental workforce. Many practices know how hard their staff are working in the physically demanding and emotionally draining conditions of layers of PPE for extended periods whilst adhering to rigid infection protection protocols. There is support available thorough NHS practitioner health and BDA members have access to counselling and emotional support with Health Assured.