Freedom Day For Practices But With Conditions

Freedom Day For Practices But With Conditions

 The UK Health Security Agency, a body set up following the demise of Public Health England, has issued new guidance, COVID-19: infection prevention and control dental appendix  for practices and relaxations on the tight controls that have been in operation over the last 18 months.

It covers all practices, both NHS and private, as well as all salaried services. Although approved by all four CDOs it is essentially an England document and there may be differences in detail in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The first change is that all patients will need to fill out a questionnaire asking if they have any Covid symptoms, have any of your family been diagnosed and so on. This is fairly standard in healthcare settings. The overwhelming majority of our patient will answer ‘No’ to all questions and be put on a ‘non-respiratory pathway’.

They will have to wear a mask around the practice and exercise some social distancing, but can be treated with simple cross infection control precautions. As an experienced practice owner told GDPUK “it’s back to pre-Covid PPE” for these patients who will constitute the overwhelming majority of patients.

As well as PPE there are relaxation of the use of Aerosol Generating Procedures, Fallow time and Ventilation. Those answering Yes to any of the questions, they will be put on a ‘respiratory pathway’. If possible many of these will be rescheduled if possible.

It is imperative that all practitioners study this guidance to see how it will affect their practice and take advice from their professional association. The BDA says they are waiting for Standard Operating Procedures to be issued for each country and until then, you should continue to use those currently in place.

The overall thrust appears to be towards a more liberal regime, however…

How much longer will NHS England accept dentists saying they do not have the capacity to take on new patients, especially those in pain?

Does this change signify a target of perhaps 85% of UDAs to be achieved by January and 100% from April?

With the current workforce crisis, will NHS dentistry survive?


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