Dental professionals respond to reopening date for practices

The dental industry has responded to the announcement that dental practices will reopen on Monday 9th June

The reopening of dental practices will be seen in the coming days after a start date was announced  – prompting a response from the dental profession and industry players. 

Yesterday evening, it was announced that dental practices can reopen from Monday 8th June 2020.

Alongside giving the green light, England’s CDO Sara Hurley released ‘return to work’ guidelines to support practices in their reopening preparations.

She said: ‘Progression to resumption of the full range of routine dental care will be risk-managed by the individual practice and can include aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs), subject to following the necessary IPC and PPE requirements.

‘Dental practices should also take steps to risk assess their workforce and take commensurate actions.’

We’ve brought together a collection of responses as dental teams get ready for reopening in the face of the pandemic.

Welcome message or logistical nightmare? – Neel Kothari’s response

The news that we will soon be allowed to resume routine dentistry has certainly been a welcome message for some and a logistical nightmare for others.

Many practices will have serious issues sourcing the appropriate PPE and staffing. And many will have their own issues such as sourcing childcare whilst the country remains partially in lockdown.

It was a real shame that we as a healthcare profession had to learn about this at the same time as the general public whose expectations may now be unrealistic.

We have an abundance of NHS documents, full of internally used jargon that the majority of dentists simply do not understand.

We urgently need clear and plain advice on how we can safely reopen whilst protecting ourselves, our patients and the wider public. Simply stating ‘it will be dentists themselves that decide when they open up’ is an abscondment of duty. It does little to restore the goodwill of the profession who by large have diligently obeyed.

For many dentists, going back to work will not be a realistic option. For those that do there will still be much uncertainty in the coming months. But if history has taught us anything, we managed to cope with the awful 2006 contract so we can probably cope with this too.

Price has been too high but excited for return – Andrea Ubhi’s response

It’s going to be 11 weeks that dental practices in England will have been closed. During that time, thousands of our patients have been in agonising pain. Oral cancers remained undiagnosed, teeth have abscessed and have been extracted instead of a simple root canal treatment.

As a profession, we have had to watch on with our hands tied. We have been told to do what we were told years ago never to do again – prescribe antibiotics for pulpitis instead of treatment. We’ve had to make that ‘diagnosis’ over the phone instead of face-to-face. Three months ago this would have probably been indefensible.

UDCs were set up weeks too late, and some never even started due to lack of PPE and denied funding they were promised.

We are one of the only countries in the world that turned its back on our dental patients. The price has been too high.

I am overwhelmed and excited that we have the green light to start again on the 8th June. However, one week’s notice is tight to train the team and source adequate PPE.

Let’s make the best of this mess now. Let’s rise from the ashes, share resources between practices, work together, get re-started together – and get back to caring for our patients.

Reopening welcome but government help needed – British Dental Association’s response

The BDA welcomed the news that reopening practices has the go ahead. However, it warns varying PPE levels means practices will work at different speeds.

It also cites social distancing measures and appropriate cross-infection control as other causes for consideration.

BDA chair Mick Armstrong said: ‘A return of high street dentistry will be welcome news to millions of patients left with few options during lockdown. But key questions remain.

‘It is right to allow practices to decide themselves when they are ready to open. Dentists will be keen to start providing care as soon as safely possible, but we will need everyone to be patient as practices get up and running.

‘Dentist can open their doors but won’t be able to provide a full range of care without the necessary kit.

‘Longer term, practices can only stay afloat with ongoing support while social distancing continues and the costs of providing care are sky high.

‘Opening the floodgates risks raising false expectations, unless the government is willing to step up and help.’

The BDA warns that access levels could drop by as much as two thirds as a result of these new measures and precautions.

Dental practices are advised to source the necessary PPE before reopening on 8th June

Doors will only open when PPE needs are met – Mydentist’s response

Dr Nyree Whitley, group clinical director of {my}dentist, said: ‘Throughout the pandemic, we have been clear that our first priority is the wellbeing of our patients and colleagues. This continues to be the case.

‘As a result, {my}dentist practices will only reopen once we are satisfied that we have all of the necessary processes and PPE in place to ensure everyone’s safety.

‘We currently expect to open practices on 15th June with limited treatments and further safety measures in place. Then, on 1st July, we should be in a position to offer a full range of dental treatments.

‘During the lockdown we have been working hard to prepare our dental practices. We have put into place strict social distancing measures, enhanced protection, and temperature checks for everyone.

‘When we reopen, we will prioritise those patients who need urgent treatment. This includes those who have been experiencing pain or discomfort during lockdown.

‘We’ll be in touch with patients to let them know when their local {my}dentist practice is reopened.

‘In the meantime, we urge patients who currently need urgent dental treatment to continue to contact their practice.’

Enhanced training and enhanced PPE – Bupa Dental Care’s response

Gabriela Pueyo, general manager of Bupa Dental Care, said the provider is looking forward to reopening.

He said: ‘We look forward to welcoming patients back into our practices in England and providing them with the vital care they need.

‘In anticipation, we have been preparing for the full re-opening of our 400+ practices for a number of weeks. We are prioritising the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff.

‘We have introduced some new enhanced measures across the practices. Our new patient charter sets out these changes and will help our patients understand the measures we are taking. This is to ensure everybody is safe and social distancing measures are maintained.

‘Personal protective equipment (PPE) has always been worn by our clinical teams in the practice. But the new COVID-19 safe measures mean our clinicians will now be wearing appropriate, enhanced PPE. This is to minimise the risk of cross contamination during treatments.’

‘As it is a clinical environment, our teams are always focused on infection control and prevention. However, they have also undergone enhanced IPC training and are ready to treat patients.’

GSKFind out more about Dentistry’s Back to Practice campaign. 

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