Stability in uncertain times

Dentist wearing protection during COVID-19John Makin urges dental professionals to regularly check relevant websites to stay up to date with the latest advice.

Dental practice has changed dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s natural for dental professionals to be feeling unnerved by the speed and scale of the transformation.

We have heard from many members concerned about keeping themselves and patients safe in the midst of it all. It has been particularly difficult for colleagues to reconcile the difficulty in signposting patients to sources of urgent care with their instinctive wish to offer that care themselves.

The guidance is rapidly changing and we are all anxious to ensure they are following relevant advice.

Keeping up to date

It’s important for dental professionals to regularly check relevant websites. One of our key suggestions is that practices appoint a lead person. They will have responsibility for checking and disseminating the latest advice from responsible bodies of opinion.

The NHS is currently establishing Local Urgent Dental Care systems UK-wide. It is important for practices to be up to date with the local arrangements. Both in terms of patient access and dental professionals contributing where appropriate. Many Local Dental Committees (LDCs) are involved in setting up these systems. They are a good source of information at a time when NHS communications are inevitably under pressure.

COVID-19 changes

Many colleagues have found their work has reduced or stopped because of the COVID-19 outbreak. For the DDU’s part, we are of course responding to this with adjusted subscriptions, tailored to individual needs.

On the theme of support, it also pleases me to see the GDC acknowledging the impact that COVID-19 is having on dental professionals and adapting its approach. For example, it has postponed almost all fitness to practise hearings and said it will look sympathetically on those with a CPD shortfall who are submitting a declaration this year.

These are difficult days. But I am proud of my fellow professionals who have risen to the challenge of providing appropriate and necessary patient care. It is entirely appropriate that the government has recognised the skill and dedication of dentists and their staff by giving them key worker status.

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