COVID-19: Update: Week ending November 13, 2020

COVID-19: Update: Week ending November 13, 2020

The four Chief Dental Officers of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have written a letter to dentists to thank them for their professionalism and flexibility during the COVID-19 crisis and anticipating some of the challenges the profession is likely to face during the second wave. There have also been updates on Dentists as Essential Workers, priority for any Covid-19 vaccine and the Overseas Registration Exam.

In their letter to dentists the four UK Chief Dental Officers said: “We would like to thank every single one of you for your tireless efforts to support patients. We are very proud of the response of the dental profession to this challenge. In partnership with patients, we want dental professionals always to use their professional judgement to assess risk and to make sure people receive safe care, informed by the values and principles set out in our professional standards. The national SOPs remain your guides throughout this next phase of the pandemic and we expect all registrants to follow GDC guidance using their judgement in applying the principles of best practice to the situations they face.”

Essential workers

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the BDA has repeatedly argued for the dental sector’s essential worker status to be confirmed. They reported last week that the CDO England had confirmed that NHS dental teams did indeed qualify for essential worker status, saying “The Government defines essential workers as all NHS and social care staff. The Chief Dental Officer has received confirmation from the Department of Health and Social Care that this includes the dental workforce actively engaged in supporting the NHS and maintaining dental care provision as part of the UK’s health and social care sectors.”

Following that update, the BDA has received a number of queries about the interpretation of those words and in particular whether it covers wholly private dental practices. The BDA view is that private dentistry certainly should be afforded the same status as NHS dentistry. However, given the uncertainty around the issue, we have asked the Office of the CDO to confirm the position of private practices.

Covid Vaccine

In reply to a question from Alex Cunningham MP (Labour) about the availability of Covid vaccine to dental teams, junior health minister Jo Churchill MP said: “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. The JCVI published interim advice on 25 September 2020 stating the vaccine should first be given to care home residents and staff, followed by people over 80 and health and social workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and risk.

“The JCVI has prioritised health and care workers, which would include NHS dental teams, in the initial recommendations. The final recommendations may further refine these recommendations taking into account the different levels of exposure, vaccine characteristics and other factors such as age and clinical risk. We will consider the Committee’s advice carefully as we continue to plan for a vaccination campaign.”

Overseas Registration Exam

Replying to a question from Judith Cummins, Labour MP for Bradford South on what steps have been taken by the General Dental Council to restart the Overseas Registration Exam, junior health minister Jo Churchill MP said: “The General Dental Council suspended Parts 1 and 2 of the Overseas Registration Exam earlier this year.

Following engagement with exam providers, the GDC has decided it will not be practicable to run any sittings of the exams in 2020. The GDC aim to resume the ORE as soon as it is safe and viable to do so. In the meantime, regular discussions with exam providers continue and further information will be provided to candidates as soon as it is available. Candidates who booked a place on the cancelled exams have been advised they may request a refund.

Keep up to date

BDA advice page is available to all whether or not they are members and is continuously revised.

[i] https://bda.org/advice/Coronavirus/Pages/latest-updates.aspx

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