Richard Harris on how NHS COVID-19 guidance is useful to all dental practices, NHS or private.
My team and I have been fielding calls from dentists all over the country who are concerned about the Coronavirus, properly known as COVID-19.
NHS England has provided dental practices with standard operating procedures for COVID-19. Although much of this document is generic, there is useful specific dental advice in Section 3 onwards. This includes guidance on practice procedures and initial risk assessments.
We recommend that all dental practices in the UK review this guidance, even if they don't have any NHS commitment.
Appoint a COVID-19 lead
We suggest that all practices nominates a COVID-19 lead. This person would be responsible for co-ordinating information and dissemination, as well as overseeing any preparation/guidance implementation. They should ensure that all relevant staff members are aware of any changes to guidance. Having a single-point-of-contact like this is a good idea for all practices.
Practices with an NHS commitment should also confirm their e-mail account details with their Regional commissioning team. The Central Alerting System (CAS) should be monitored, as it will be used to communicate any urgent updates.
Manage Patient Communication
Every NHS practice in England must ensure that posters are displayed somewhere they can be seen before patients enter the surgery. We encourage all other practices to do the same.
An NHS practice's telephone answering system should also begin with a message about the affected countries. It should ask whether the patient has had contact with someone who has travelled from them. See the suggested wording in the document's appendix.
If the practice uses texts as patient reminders or has an on-line appointment booking service, a similar notice might be given out.
Question your patients
Your patients are unlikely to have COVID-19. However, all patients should be asked about their relevant travel history. Have they been to/through either of the defined category areas in the last 14 days? Have they have been in close contact with someone who has?
We've sought corrections and clarification from the NHS on these questions, and we will update this blog once changes are made.
We encourage you to familiarise yourself the procedures to follow if a patient presents with suspected COVID-19, including how to deal with them at the surgery. We also suggest you read the advice on decontamination and cleaning after such a patient has left.
Head of Compliance, BDA
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