Martin Woodrow, CEO of British Dental Association, discusses the work being done for dentists in England affected by COVID-19.
Dentistry must be properly supported to survive this national crisis. We’re working closely with NHS England and lobbying the Government to help to ensure this - for you, your staff and your patients.
Clarity needed on NHS Payments
This week we been seeking clarity on payments for NHS dentists in all four UK countries. In England we are hoping to confirm that mixed NHS/private practices will continue to receive their NHS contractual payments. We want these practices to be able to then access wider Treasury support in direct proportion to their private commitments.
Urgent need for appropriate PPE
The issue of what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential in which circumstances has been a hot topic since the start of the outbreak. As has PPE availability. The four Chief Dental Officers are now working together on an answer to this. We’re feeding into this process and are prioritising the health of you, your staff and your patients.
Urgent care centres delayed
The development of urgent dental care systems is of huge importance to us. We have argued for non-urgent procedures to cease, but are concerned with the state of progress of the establishment of urgent care centres in England. In Northern Ireland, the new dental emergency centres are already being phased in. In England, this is not so. The availability of PPE for these systems is also an issue. We will update you on progress as it happens.
Each nation has variously set up a process for seeking volunteers to help with both urgent care and the wider NHS effort. In England, volunteers have been asked to respond to an NHS survey, whilst some dentists and teams have already stepped forward to help with local urgent and emergency care. NHS practices and staff are expected to help out; if you choose to do so, we suggest you take some steps to prepare and record your efforts.
This continues to be a hot topic, with some confusion among dentists about the practicalities of furloughing staff. Please see our advice on furlough within Coronavirus: Financial Impact and consider it before making any decisions about laying off staff. It is not yet clear what the situation is regarding mixed practices in England and we are pushing for clarity on this.
Last but certainly not least, we are continuing to press the Government on the issue of financial support for the self-employed. The Chancellor has excluded anyone earning over £50,000 from the relief measures introduced last week. This has a massive impact on dentists, particularly those in private practice with no access to ongoing NHS earnings. We’ve taken our concerns to the Chancellor and the Health Minister. We asked you to complete a short survey on earnings, and 5,000 of you replied. We’re now going back to the Chancellor with this hard evidence of how the financial support needs to be extended. We are campaigning for you and will keep you updated.
A chance to voice your concerns
Tomorrow evening you will have the chance to ask questions directly to Chief Dental Officer England Sara Hurley and NHS Director of Primary Care and System Transformation Matt Neligan. They’ve invited dentists to a webinar on COVID-19 at 17.00-18.00 on Friday 3 April. Due to the numbers expected to join, they’re asking that you submit questions/comments via the chat function. You will be able to connect shortly before it starts, here. Don’t miss out on this chance.
As you can see from our live updates stream, we’re working hard for dentists across the UK. Your best interests are at the heart of all of our efforts. Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to stand together to protect dentists and dentistry.
CEO of British Dental Association