- Published: Tuesday, 13 September 2022 21:16
- Written by Peter Ingle
- Hits: 1189
There has already been a good deal of discussion on the GDPUK forum about how to manage the Bank Holiday that was announced for the Queens State Funeral on September 19th. Within individual practices there will, by now, have been conversations about how to respond, and some will have already made their decision whether to close, or remain open.
Some guidance has now emerged from NHS England. A letter signed off by Dr Ursula Montgomery, Director of Primary Care NHS England, seeks to find a balance between maintaining patient access to primary care services, and supporting members of teams providing services, who may want to pay their respects on the day.
The letter goes on to set out expectations for ensuring there is ongoing access available to NHS primary care services, sector by sector.
A section dedicated to Dental and Community Pharmacy states that Regional Teams will need to work with providers to ensure access to emergency dental care. It adds that commissioners and providers need to take into account that that there are likely to be school and childcare closures.
Dental teams may be surprised that the writer felt it necessary to add, “For patients with planned appointments that are affected by the bank holiday, please ensure they are informed in advance of any changes by utilising direct patient communications.”
An annex to the letter covers the contractual position for each group. For General and Personal Dental Services it states that, “General and Personal Dental Service contracts define “working day” as any day apart from Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday, or a bank holiday. As urgent dental care services are commissioned outside of normal working days dental providers will need to ensure they maintain sufficient access on a bank holiday to meet any urgent dental needs i.e. those requiring immediate attention in order to minimise the risk of serious medical complications or prevent long-term dental complication.”
There would appear to be an assumption that any UDA’s missed on the 19th will be made up at the practices expense, or added to clawback.
NHS dentists may be interested to see the guidance given regarding core GP services. This says that, “GP practices will be contractually able to close on this day for their core services as it is a confirmed bank holiday. ICBs will need to urgently work to ensure sufficient out-of-hours (Integrated Urgent Care) services capacity is in place during what would have been core hours to meet patient’s urgent primary medical care needs.”
Within 24 hours of Dr Montgomery’s letter it appears that regional variations may be emerging. For example, NHS East of England have now sent an email to all primary care providers demanding that details of arrangements are provided to them. Notwithstanding the content of the original letter which differentiated between general practice, and urgent and out of hours services, East of England are asking, “If you plan to close, how will you ensure adequate alternative arrangements are in place for patients?” The email implies that if they do not hear from practices by noon on the 15th they will assume that normal hours of opening will be available.
Funeral closureHi Mike,
Thank you for your message above. Has the original email from EOE been deleted? I received these messages to my practice nhs.net account, but I can't seem to find the first of the two messages now.
Funeral closureThanks for your reply Mike. I do already have a copy of the email because I sent a reply to the first email from Dental East, and I received an automated response that contains the original email and what I had written in my reply. It's just that I can no longer see the original email on its own. Maybe this is a feature of the nhs.net email software, which I don't use very often. I also forwarded a copy of the original email plus my reply to one of my other email addresses, so I also have a backup.
Unfortunately, I did not get any answers (satisfactory or otherwise) to the questions I posed which started as follows: "Dear Dental East,
Thank you for your email below. Before I reply to this and fill in the form I would like to know what you will do to recompense my practice regarding those patients who will undoubtedly cancel their appointments for this event?"... so their form, which I haven't looked at or downloaded has not been answered by me.
Funeral closureAs an NHS East of England practitioner, there does seem to be a tendency for EoE to try and abrogate their responsibility for bank holiday urgent care. There is pretty much this type of letter each Christmas too.
While I am happy to provide emergency advice/care as appropriate. "it's not in the contract" as our GMP colleagues have been known to state.
EDIT: EoE appear to have reconsidered their position. A second email has arrived, of considerably less aggressive tone, with a rather more accurate and reasonable statement of the requirements.
Patients contacted us before we had our staff discussion to cancel. Many staff wanted to watch the proceedings, and we must, as employers "be sympathetic".
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