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Updates from week commencing 3 August 2020

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

Friday 7 August


England: New guidance expected next week

We believe that NHS England will produce important new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) next week. These are expected to clarify how dentistry should operate during local lockdowns and to cover proper procedures for managing patients who are shielding. We will update you as soon as we have more information.



England: Weekly COVID-19 surveillance report published

This week, case detections in England were stable on a national level at 4,605, compared to 4,625 last week. Dentists in England should note that there were increases in activity in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and the East Midlands.

At a local authority level, incidence was highest in Blackburn and Darwen, but has decreased compared to the previous week. To find out about case numbers in your area and whether they are trending up or down, see the full report.   


Thursday 6 August


Scotland: Evidence shows mixed practices need support

We have written to the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing with new evidence of the stark situation facing mixed practices in Scotland. 

The vast majority of dental practices in Scotland are mixed, and the results of our recent survey show just how precarious a financial situation many are facing. By showing the Minister that some practices are still losing money at an alarming rate, despite taking all available steps to counteract it, we've made clear how vital it is that additional financial support is made available to ensure the viability of these practices. 



Scotland: Better communication and engagement needed from Scottish Government

 Chief Dental Officer, Tom Ferris, attended our Scottish Dental Practice Committee (SDPC) meeting yesterday. We took this opportunity to urge the CDO to communicate more regularly and effectively with the profession, and to engage better with us to allow more effective discussion and negotiation.

Such meetings are essential to ensuring that your voice is heard on the issues that matter. We also pursued a range of other issues with the CDO, including: contingency plans for a second Covid spike; financial support to ensure the viability of dental practices; concerns about the reintroduction of aerosol generating procedures in practice; opportunities for Vocational Dental Practitioners during the pandemic; and the long-term future of dentistry in Scotland. We will continue to pursue these issues on your behalf and will keep you up to date with developments.



Northern Ireland: Updated fees guide

We have updated our Northern Ireland SDR Fees Guide to incorporate the 2019/20 fees. And we have appealed directly to the Health Minister to put an end to the damaging cycle whereby SDR pay uplifts are applied over a year later for dentists in Northern Ireland, compared with their colleagues in other parts of the UK.

You should by now have received the 2019-20 Statement of Dental Renumeration. The Business Services Organisation (BSO) have confirmed that practices using the EDI/portal to submit claims can use the new SDR from Monday 10 August.

Paper based dental practices can begin to use the new SDR immediately. Backpay has been calculated and will be paid in the August Schedule and it will not impact Financial Support Scheme payments.

Wednesday 5 August


Scotland: Local lockdown implemented in Aberdeen

Due to increased rates of COVID-19 in Aberdeen a local lockdown has been announced. Local restrictions on travel, indoor gatherings between households and hospitality closures have been introduced.


The CDO has advised that dental practices in the area should continue to provide the services they are currently providing.  


If you are an NHS contract holder, we advise you to speak to NHS Grampian for advice on how to proceed. And if a new Standard Operating Procedure is published to clarify the situation regarding local lockdowns, we will update you.



England: Guidance on mouth care for hospitalised COVID positive patients

Public Health England had published new guidance on mouth care for hospitalised patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

The guidance outlines mouth care for hospitalised adults and children with confirmed or suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) who are non-ventilated, ventilated and those having step down or end of life care. This has been added to PHE's wider collection of resources on oral health for dental public health practitioners in England.



Wales: Health stabilisation budget to include PPE for NHS dentistry

Today the Welsh Government announced a £800m stabilisation package to help the Welsh NHS to continue to respond to the impact of COVID-19. The funding is intended to support NHS organisations across Wales to prepare for the anticipated challenges that winter will bring.

It aims to allow a strategic approach to the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the health and social care sectors, including NHS dentistry. We hope this will allow dentistry to continue safely even in the context of a second wave, as the oral health and financial impacts of a second lockdown in dentistry would be severe.

Health and Social Services Minister Vaughan Gething said: "Whilst our services rigorously prepare every year for winter pressures, 2020 may be unlike any other. This £800m package will help with many aspects as we move into the next phase of the virus such as PPE supplies, testing and an ambitious flu vaccination programme."

Tuesday 4 August


Stress: Is there a burgeoning mental health crisis?


It may be a long time before we see the real mental health impacts of this pandemic. But since the end of lockdown, there's been a rise in the requests for mental health support to the Dentists' Health Support Programme (DHSP).


Rory O'Connor, Coordinator of the DHSP, has reflected on the mental health challenges facing dentists during this new normal. He writes on the need to exercise empathy and maintain your professionalism during this crisis, explains what warning signs you should look out for and why they're forecasting an increase in requests for support this winter.




England: Dental practices in local lockdown areas

Members have reached out to confirm what they should do if their local area is placed under lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.


We believe that the expectation is that practices continue with the services they are currently providing. However, we are expecting a new Standard Operating Procedure to be produced soon by NHS England to support sites affected and we are chasing this up.


If you are an NHS contract holder, please speak to your Local Area Team for advice on how to proceed. If you are experiencing particular problems, please flag them with us so that we can take the issue up with the relevant body for you.

Monday 3 August



Are dentists uniquely suited to redeployment in a medical crisis?


A recent article in the British Dental Journal reflects on the role of the dental team as part of the medical workforce during national and global crises. In the article Sarah Sacoor, Simran Chana and Farida Fortune reflect on why dentists may be uniquely suited to redeployment in a medical crisis:


"[Dentists] are accustomed to working in stressful situations, are effective communicators, are familiar with infection control procedures and work wearing PPE, are immunised and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)-checked, and undergo regular training in the management of medical emergencies… They have the potential to make a significant contribution as part of the medical workforce during national and global crises."





Dental hygienists on the difficulties they're facing


Dental hygienists have voiced their worries about their future this week. Lorna McGrath, the Northern Ireland chair of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), has said their members have experienced reduced hours and struggle to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE). We know that hygienists have also had to limit the types of treatment they can offer patients.


"The majority of dental hygienists are self-employed and work a day a week in multiple practices," she said. "Many have had their hours reduced or are being asked to work different hours...For a lot of dental practices, it just isn't viable to offer a hygiene service at the moment." We know that dental practices all over the country are under unprecedented pressure and we recognise the stresses faced by dental hygienists.





Northern Ireland: Pushing for private practise funding


We have once again pushed for support for private practise in Northern Ireland.


Last month, we urged you to write to your MLA and ask them to contact the First and Deputy First Minister on your behalf. Many of you joined this campaign which ensured dentists' voices were heard at the heard at the highest level.


We are now building on this progress and have asked for a joint meeting with the Minister of Health and the Minister of the Economy to discuss mixed/private dentistry. This is essential if private practise dentistry in Northern Ireland is to get the support it needs to continue. We will update you once we have progress.





Northern Ireland: Progress made on funding for GDS


We welcome the additional £3.8m which has been approved for the GDS budget. We fought hard for this and are pleased to see this important acknowledgement of the extra costs being incurred by GDPs to provide NHS dentistry as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.


In the first instance, this will see the removal of the abatement in the Financial Support Scheme (FSS) calculations for August and September, to reflect the increase in PPE costs. More detail on future funding arrangements from October onwards still needs to be worked out, but this is a crucial first step.