COVID-19 – GDC releases new regulatory advice

GDC release new advice for decision makersDental regulators have released new advice in the face of the renewed national lockdown.

The General Dental Council (GDC) has put together supplementary advice to support decision makers when investigating dental practices.

This is to be considered alongside any existing guidance.

Factors for decision makers to consider include those relating to personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Availability and access to PPE, including fit testing issues
  • Inability to carry out treatment down to lack of PPE
  • Discomfort from wearing PPE for extended time periods and its impact on communication.

Managing new guidance:

  • Pressures of handling new guidance and protocols
  • Uncertainty in identifying which form is most appropriate.

Availability of services:

  • Services unavailable due to COVID-19
  • Staff shortages due to COVID-19
  • Limited service capacity as a result of infection prevention and control measures. This includes social distancing and the effect of adhering to fallow time.

Restrictions on treatment:

  • Inability to offer a wide range of treatments
  • Inability to fully access and diagnose patients via remote appointments
  • Additionally, the inability to refer to services.

Delay in treatment:

  • Delay in treatment as a result of COVID-related backlogs.

Other factors:

  • Work pressure from employers
  • Working a different routine or in unfamiliar roles and environments
  • Personal circumstances (eg distress or emotional trauma).

Vital role

Chief executive Ian Brack says he believes ‘challenges will inevitably continue for some time to come’.

‘I think it is important to acknowledge the care that all dental professionals have continued to provide to patients through these very difficult and challenging circumstances,’ he said.

‘With the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines underway, some dental professionals are playing a vital role in the effort to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, but most continue to sustain dental services while needing to manage the increased risks and constraints imposed by the pandemic.

‘The current surge in cases means that those challenges will inevitably continue for some time to come and dental professionals may continue to have concerns about decisions they need to take in order to provide the best care in challenging circumstances.’

Challenging circumstances

In addition, John Makin, head of the DDU, said it is important context is considered.

‘We welcome that the GDC recognises the challenging circumstances faced by dental professionals at this time,’ he said.

‘A recent DDU survey found that 60% of respondents were concerned about facing a complaint, claim or GDC investigation relating to the pandemic.

‘It is important that context is indeed taken into account by decision makers when considering concerns raised particularly as this can often be months or even years after the event.’

You can read the statement and advice here.

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