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Updates from week commencing 12 October 2020

Read all the updates and what we've been working on during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Friday 16 October 2020



COVID restrictions: concerns over practice waiting rooms


There has been concern raised regarding people from different households meeting in dentists’ waiting rooms which conflicts with the latest COVID restrictions announced earlier in the week.


We can confirm that while the new guidance does restrict gathering indoors of two or more people, it also states that there are exceptions which include gatherings that are "reasonably necessary" such as for "work purposes".





CQC calls for a fairer, better health system


The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified inequalities in health and social care, according to the Care Quality Commission’s latest report published today.

The state of health care and adult social care in England 2019/20 highlights that there were already significant gaps in access to dental services before COVID, and that it will be some time before full capacity is reached.


It echoes our long-standing concerns regarding PPE access and guidance, which should have been timelier and more effective.


The report pays tribute to the way in which the sector has adapted, while concluding that, in terms of planning and system-wide governance, oral health in most areas was not even seen to be an "integral part of the system".


“COVID is magnifying inequalities across the health and care system – a seismic upheaval which has disproportionately affected some more than others and risks turning fault lines into chasms” said CQC Chief Executive Ian Trenholm.


"As we adjust to a COVID age, the focus must be on shaping a fairer health and care system – both for people who use services, and for those who work in them."





Northern Ireland: Further £5m promised in support for GDS


The Department of Health has emailed all General Dental Practitioners in Northern Ireland to confirm that a further £5m in funding has been made available for the general dental services (GDS).


The funding, which covers the rest of the financial year, aims to offset the reduction in income from patient charges. This support matches the £5m of additional funding previously provided to fund the Financial Support Scheme since April 2020.


An incredible amount of work has gone into securing this additional funding which is key to maintaining FSS at around current levels in the months ahead. We continue to engage with officials around how best to track activity while avoiding unnecessary burdens being placed on practitioners.


We acknowledge the efforts of DoH officials in getting this significant funding bid over the line at a time when competition for government finances is becoming more intense.





Sign up to our up-coming webinars


Our popular series of COVID-19 webinars continues, with up-coming webinars on a variety of subjects. Don’t miss out, register your place today:






Stress and burnout: The impact of the pandemic


BDA Research Analyst Victoria Collin recently looked at the long-term psychological impacts of the pandemic on healthcare workers and has urged us all to prepare for long-lasting consequences of the outbreak.


“Significant levels of burnout (emotional exhaustion) and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder were found two-three years after the SARS outbreak in 2003… healthcare workers often adopt a mentality of ‘getting on with the job,’ which may help to minimise psychological stress. It is only after the immediate threat has dissipated that the effects will manifest.”



Thursday 15 October 2020



Northern Ireland: Reflecting on progress made


In his latest blog Tristen Kelso, National Director of BDA Northern Ireland, takes a moment to reflect on how the BDA has been supporting the profession during the pandemic: “It’s a worrying time in Northern Ireland, as case numbers rise and new restrictions come into force. But while we continue to face very real challenges as a society, I think it’s helpful to reflect on what we’ve managed to achieve as a profession by working together during this pandemic.”


“I’m proud that the voice of dentistry has been heard loud and clear at a time when it counted the most. We have seen what can be achieved when the profession speaks with one voice. I believe the value of BDA membership is clear for all to see, and am delighted that our membership is growing.”





How can we tackle racism in dentistry?


Sadly, racism remains an ever-present reality for many of our colleagues and is deep-rooted in our culture. Issues that have come to the surface in dentistry, the impact of the pandemic on ethnic minorities and international events around Black Lives Matter, have made this clear.


That's why, we’re committed to tackling racism within dentistry. In his most recent blog, BDA President Russ Ladwa discusses racism in dentistry and how we can combat it.





Wales: Clarity on treatment in local lockdown areas


The Welsh CDO has made clear to the BDA in recent correspondence that GDS dental practices should continue to treat patients with dental needs in high risk areas, as long as they don't exhibit any signs of COVID infection and are not self-isolating due to track and trace. The rationale is that infection risks will be mitigated fully by the current SOP.


If, however, patients are showing COVID-19 symptoms, have a positive test result or are self-isolating due to track and trace - and they need urgent dental care - then they should be referred to the UDCs as before. If the patient's dental needs are not urgent, then they should be triaged until such time that any risk of passing on the infection has diminished, and they can then be treated in the surgery.





Wales: New travel restrictions will not impact dentistry


People from parts of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland that have high rates of coronavirus will be banned from travelling to Wales from Friday 16 October. Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said the move was needed "to prevent the spread of infection within Wales" and elsewhere in the UK.


However, this will not affect dentists and dental patients who cross the English-Welsh border for work or to access dental care. You should reassure staff and patients that this counts as essential travel and is therefore unaffected.





England: Free PPE for NHS providers


Members are reminded that PPE is available to NHS providers and orderable every seven days via the PPE portal. To calculate the portal’s order limit, practices need to calculate their number of units of dental activity (UDAs) plus number of units of orthodontic activity (UOAs), if any, multiplied by 1.5 per practice per year.


Providers should have received an invitation to register sent to your email account registered with Care Quality Commission (CQC), NHS Business Services Authority (BSA), NHS England or the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).



Wednesday 14 October 2020



England: NHS contract discussions continue


We know that dentists and their teams across England have been anticipating changes to the current NHS contractual arrangements, which were announced back in July. Indeed, many of you were expecting new arrangements to start from the beginning of October.


Discussions are on-going between the BDA and NHS England about how the contractual provisions might change. There has been a lot of ground to cover and much dialogue around what level of activity can reasonably be expected given ongoing constraints. Please be assured that we will not accept any changes that are not safe and fair, for practices and patients.


We are expecting to be able to update you soon. In the meantime, practices should continue to deliver care in line with the current Standard Operating Procedure and it is important that you continue to commit the same amount of time to NHS care as previously.





Northern Ireland: Executive tightens restrictions


The Northern Ireland Executive has announced tightened restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. These will come into force on Friday 16 October.


Dentists and dental practices should note, that we are not aware of any further restrictions to the provision of dental services in Northern Ireland, which we understand will continue to operate as they are at present. However, we await formal confirmation that this is the case from the Chief Dental Officer.


The closure of schools in the region to all pupils - including children of key workers – for two weeks from this date will, however, undoubtedly have childcare implications for both GDPs and dental staff.





Updated guidance on safe use of X-ray equipment


The Faculty of General Dental Practitioners has published updated guidance for dental practitioners on the safe use of X-ray equipment.


Originally published in 2001, it set out the administrative and practical matters that must be addressed within a dental practice to ensure good standards of radiation protection. The updated guidance takes into account more recent developments in dental X-ray equipment, imaging technology and legislation.





Using the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace App


Dentists continue to have questions around how to use the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace App while at work. The guidance advises that you:


  • Download the NHS COVID-19 app to help the fight against coronavirus
  • Use the pause contact-tracing function on the app when you are in dental surgeries (as you are working in highly specialised environment, trained in infection prevention and control processes, and wearing medical grade PPE as required)
  • You can still use some of the app’s functionality while the app contact-tracing feature is paused, if you wish.

Further questions on how healthcare workers can use the NHS COVID-19 app are answered on the NHS Test and Trace website. Please distribute the full guidance to your staff.





Scotland: Concerns about remobilisation


We have written to the Scottish Government to express our disappointment that many dentists found out about Monday’s announcement, that they can offer the full range of NHS treatments from 1 November, via the media or from patients. We again urged the Scottish Government to improve its communication with dentists. We also reiterated our concerns that expanding the range of treatments will increase patient demand and lead to even higher levels of stress among the profession than at present.


It is essential that government provide regular and timely information and clearly explain major decisions that affect dental teams. This includes the decision to extend the range of NHS treatments and reintroduce the previous funding model at a time when the virus transmission rate is increasing and further restrictions have been applied to other sectors.



Tuesday 13 October 2020



Pregnancy and COVID-19: Risk assessments


Health and safety regulations require employers to reduce risks particular to pregnant colleagues, including risks of catching communicable diseases such as coronavirus, where these risks are higher in the workplace.


That’s why, we’ve produced a series of risk assessments for members, to support dentists and their teams to keep safe during this challenging time:


Pregnant - in patient-facing clinical role

Pregnant - in patient-facing administrative role

Pregnant - in non-patient-facing administrative role

Pregnant - in non-patient-facing decontamination/cleaning role





England: New COVID guidance for shielding and vulnerable


New guidance has been issued on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. This replaces previous guidance on shielding and is set out in 2 parts:


1. Updated advice on protecting the clinically extremely vulnerable, based on the local COVID alert level in your area. This advice is less restrictive than previous shielding advice.


2. Updated shielding advice that is more targeted and will only apply in some of the worst affected areas and only for a limited period of time.





England: The three tier COVID alert system


Yesterday the Prime Minister outlined a new three tier COVID alert system. These alert levels are medium, high and very high. At present the Liverpool City region is at the highest alert level.


Greater Manchester, Durham, and parts of the following places are all on high alert: Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, West and South Yorkshire, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Tees Valley, West Midlands, Leicester and Nottinghamshire.


Not sure what your local area alert level is? Here is the full list of COVID alert levels by area.





Black history month at the BDA Library
To mark Black history month and as part of a long-standing effort to improve the diversity of our library’s collections, we are building an archive of Black and ethnic minority dental history in the UK.
One such story is that of Edward Tull-Warnock, who may have been one of Britain's first Black, qualified, professional dentists in 1912. Stories like Edward’s shed an important light on the history of dentists in the UK.


If you have/had a family member or know of dentists or members of the dental team who have played a part in dental history, please share their story with the BDA Library.





Fallow time calculator launched


A new free-to-use Fallow Time Calculator has been launched to enable dental professionals to determine, justify and record the fallow period necessary following dental procedures carrying a higher risk of exposure to potentially-infectious aerosols.


It has been endorsed by the Chief Dental Officer for England and is designed to complement the recently updated COVID-19 guidance published by the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP) and the College of General Dentistry (CGDent), which incorporates the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) recommendations on fallow time.





Supporting your mental health and wellbeing


Studies show high levels of stress and burnout amongst UK dentists, with GDPs showing some of the highest levels of stress. Saturday was World Mental Health Day and so we’d like to flag some of the information and resources available to support you.


Three things you can do for your mental wellbeing: Former BDA president Roz McMullan worked to support the mental wellbeing of frontline staff during the crisis. Here she reflects on the level of stress dentists are under and looks at three strategies for mitigating it.


The mental health crisis in dentistry: what needs to happen: Former BDA Chair, Mick Armstrong sets out the case for action on preventative measures to ensure dentists’ wellbeing is safeguarded during and after the pandemic. 


A guide to imposter syndrome: Do you have imposter syndrome? Leah Kanda, a dental student at King's College London, tells us about imposter syndrome and how to tackle it.


The long-term impact of pandemics on healthcare workers: Research Analyst Victoria Collin discusses the psychological impact of pandemics on healthcare workers and why it is essential that we prepare for long-lasting consequences.


BDA members can also receive counselling and emotional support through our Health Assured programme. Calling this confidential helpline can help you deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home or work life, health and general wellbeing. It’s open to all members 24/7, 365 days a year.



Monday 12 October 2020



Four people in dentistry honoured in the Queen’s Birthday list

We congratulate the four people in dentistry who have had their achievements recognised in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list:

Derek J Maguire OBE - services to dentistry and the COVID-19 response

Professor Helen Dawn Rodd MBE - services to Young People and NHS Leadership
Professor Matthew R Walters MBE - services to the NHS during COVID-19
Professor Simon Paul Wright MBE - services to patient safety in dentistry


Read more about their achievements.





Scotland: Dentists can soon provide a full range of NHS dental treatments


We are concerned that the Scottish Government’s announcement today that dentists can provide a full range of NHS dental treatments from 1 November will lead to an increase in pressure on dentists and their teams. While we do not want to encourage a “two-tier” dental system, the fact is that dentists, in the interests of patient safety, will still only be able to treat only a fraction of the number of patients compared to pre-Covid levels.


Reintroducing the previous funding model in full is not appropriate at a time when the virus transmission rate is increasing and further restrictions have been applied to other sectors.


We were disappointed that the profession was not informed of the Scottish Government’s decision before it was announced this morning. Many patients have already been contacting dental practices about the extended range of treatments which has increased the stress on dentists and their teams.


The Scottish Government is due to publish further details later this week on the expanded services and the support funding for dentists. We will comment further when we receive this information.





New Job Support Scheme launches soon


Some dental practices may be able to avail of the Government's new Job Support Scheme this winter. This scheme is designed to protect jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand due to the pandemic.


Under the scheme, practices will continue to pay an employee for time worked, but the burden of hours not worked will be split between the practice and the Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction). This should hopefully allow fewer people to be made redundant.


The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for six months, until April 2021. The Government will pay a third of hours not worked up to a cap, with practices also contributing a third. This will ensure employees earn a minimum of 77% of their normal wages, where the Government contribution has not been capped.


Find out more about this scheme, including:


  • Who is eligible?
  • What does it cover?
  • How to claim?





Call for plasma donations to combat COVID-19


We are urging dentists and dental team members in England who have tested positive for COVID-19 to put themselves forward as potential donors for the NHS convalescent plasma programme. This is currently being used in clinical trials to improve the recovery of people with the virus.


BDA Chair, Eddie Crouch is leading the call. He developed COVID-19 during lockdown, has fully recovered and has volunteered for the programme:


“Dentists and their teams have gone over and above during the pandemic, manning urgent dental care centres, redeployed to the front line, and working all out to restore services. For those who have tested COVID-positive these plasma donations can now save lives."