Coronavirus: updated guidance for dental professionals on providing urgent dental care

On 15 April 2020, NHS England published updated guidance for dentists which addresses the provision of urgent dental care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The full guidance can be found here.

Further to NHS England’s previous guidance, it is reiterated that the provision of all routine, non-urgent dental care has been suspended until further notice. In providing urgent or emergency dental care, the guidance states that each COVID-19 urgent dental care (UDC) system should deliver the following:

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Managing the COVID-19 crisis for dentists – An update from the CDO

On Friday evening Sara Hurley, Chief Dental Officer hosted a live webinar for anyone interested in the current issues affecting dental services. By 6pm on Friday evening Ms Hurley closed the session reporting they had received over 3000 questions from those participating through the webinar chat function. This highlights both the involvement that dental practitioners are keen to show, as well as the uncertainty ruminating throughout the profession. Questions of course couldn’t all be answered, but reassurance was given that the questions will steer the policy makers to provide greater clarity in areas generating more uncertainty than others.

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The Coronavirus Act 2020 – implications for health and care practitioners, a round up

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (the Act) received royal assent on 25 March 2020, allowing the provisions initially for a period of two years, with the powers to be lengthened or shortened, and will be reviewed every six months.  Not all measures will come into force immediately as the Government has the power to switch these new provisions on and off when necessary. An overview of some of the provisions affecting health care professionals is outlined below.

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Dentistry amid the COVID-19 crisis

In the midst of a healthcare crisis, there has been a flurry of activity and publications aimed at the dental profession which has continued to update with the changing landscape.  Although likely to become outdated in the coming weeks possibly even days, the below provides a consolidated overview of the current guidance and advice for dental practitioners from the GDC, the four Chief Dental Officers of the devolved NHS and the BDA.

The General Dental Council

The current approach of the GDC is based on two core principles:

  1. Minimising the burden of time and attention imposed on registrants.
  2. Maximizing the flexibility of registrants to manage their professional activities in response to the challenges of COVID-19.

Business Continuity – The GDC recognise that whilst efforts may be focused on how best to deal with the changing requirements there is still a role for regulation. The GDC does not expect any dental professional to be providing treatment unless they consider it safe for both patients and the dental team. Treatment is now limited to  urgent treatment. This will surely pose questions for practitioners about how best to offer services to such patients.

CPD – For those concerned about the cancellations of face to face CPD courses, practitioners should consider other activities such as web based learning. To further reassure, the GDC highlight that it is perfectly acceptable for practitioners to submit a return of zero hours if 10 or more hours were recorded in the previous year. They state that they will look sympathetically at the circumstances of those who may be left with a shortfall for the declaration they are due to make this year and that nobody will be removed from the register due to a lack of access to CPD during this period.

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