How is the dental industry likely to be redeployed?

The NHS has released its redeployment plans for dental volunteersThe NHS has revealed how dental teams are likely to be redeployed as professionals are urged to step forward to help battle coronavirus. 

Patient hygiene, mouth care and result chasing are just some of the jobs that dentists could be asked to carry out as part of redeployment.

This follows the latest advice issued by England’s chief dental officer, Sara Hurley, where she encouraged dental teams to volunteer to support the NHS response. 

This was also set out as a condition in return for the funding support made available to NHS practices.

Any and all members of the dental team are welcomed to opt to be redeployed to assist coronavirus efforts.

We have summarised the key points of the dental redeployment document below:

What are the potential redeployment roles?

Foundation dentist and GDP

  • Decontamination measures, moving patients, bedside support, equipment preparation, wound dressing, acting as ‘runners’ between teams, administrative jobs, talking to relatives, suture removal, history taking, radiography, helping with feeding, washing and monitoring of patients

Dentist with sedation training

  • The same roles as a foundation dentist but also phlebotomy and cannulation. They may also be required to administer sedation to relieve anaesthetists

Dental nurse

  • Decontamination measures, administrative jobs, talking to relatives, helping with feeding, moving and washing of patients, acting as ‘runners’ between teams, bedside support, equipment preparation

Dental therapist

  • The same roles as a dental nurse but also suture removal, wound dressing, patient observations and monitoring, and history taking

Dental technician

  • Administrative roles, talking to relatives, bedside support or comfort, equipment preparation, acting as ‘runners’ between teams

The NHS hopes to match dental volunteers to the most suitable roles. However, an individual may be placed in a less suitable role. If this is the case, they will be adequately supported and should only work within the limits of their competencies.

Will there be training involved?

Training depends on your experience and skillset. All dental volunteers will be given a role as close to their current competencies as possible.

If training is required, a number of training and induction modules have been developed by Health Education England to help workforces correctly respond to COVID-19.

All dental volunteers will go through an orientation and induction process at a local level to make sure they are fully prepared for working in unfamiliar settings. They will also be given a point of contact at their redeployment location to which questions and concerns should be directed.

When and where will I work?

There are no exact start dates for any additional support. It will vary according to the specific demands of a local area.

You will be offered opportunities as close to your requested area as is possible and reasonably practical. Volunteers should prepare for an element of travel but any travel expenses will be reimbursed. In certain cases, local accommodation will be offered.

It is very likely that once volunteers have started work in a particular team, they will remain there until demand reduces. This also minimises the need for training and induction.

Are there any specific personal health requirements?

  • Pregnancy. The government has advised those who are pregnant to strictly follow social distancing measures. Although this does not mean you cannot work, you should have a risk assessment carried out at work and work in non-clinical roles where you can.
  • Chronic diseases. Individuals with particular conditions have been told to strictly follow social distancing measures, a list of which can be found here. Again, a risk assessment should be carried out and non-clinical roles are preferred.

If individuals develop symptoms of coronavirus while volunteering, they should notify your point of contact. If someone in their family or household develops symptoms, current health advice on testing and management should be followed.

In certain groups, the government advised agains returning to patient-facing clinical work if individuals care for some who is at risk. However, there are a number of non patient-facing roles that need support, such as NHS 111 assistance.

What happens with indemnity?

The document states that arrangements are in place to indemnify healthcare workers for the work they already do for the NHS. Existing indemnity arrangements continue throughout the pandemic.

The Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) will cover dentists and DCPs who are redeployed to work for NHS trusts.

The Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP) will cover dentists and DCPs who are redeployed to work for general practices carrying out NHS contracted  work.

Through the Coronavirus Act 2020, the government included additional indemnity coverage for clinical negligence liabilities that may emerge during the COVID-19 response.

Will I have a contract?

No employment contracts will be given. Instead, there will be an agreement with an allocated placement.

It is likely that volunteers will work specific hours as part of a wider rota. Dental professionals will be asked for their availability and given shifts, where possible, that align with this.

It is currently unknown how long volunteers will be needed for. They are free to stop working whenever they choose and can redeploy for a short period if desired. Assistance from the wider healthcare community will be needed until COVID-19 is safely under control.

Those working part-time can get involved and may be able to extend their working hours if they want to do so. However, volunteers are reminded to carefully consider decisions to find a balance between supporting frontline services and delivering business as usual.

Any dental professional wishing to support the NHS can submit their interest and complete the survey here.

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