What’s new in the latest IPC guidance?

What's new in the latest IPC guidance?Changes to pathways and distancing are just some of the updates from the latest infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance. 

The government yesterday released new guidance for healthcare settings, including dentistry. This refers to the advice clinicians have had to follow since the onset of COVID-19 early in 2020.

It applies to teams from all areas of dentistry including both NHS and private providers as well as community, armed forces and prison services.

The key changes in the dental appendix of the IPC document include:

  • Physical distancing requirements measuring at least one metre for the respiratory pathway
  • Removal of the three COVID-19 care pathways – high, medium and low
  • A screening tool to put patients on non-respiratory or a respiratory pathways. Clinicians should also follow the standard infection control precautions for the non-respiratory pathway.

What has not changed?

However a number of IPC measures remain in place. For example:

  • Organisations and employers need to assess, manage and monitor risk based on the measures prioritised in the hierarchy of controls
  • All patients screened for COVID-19
  • Universal face coverings/masks to remain for staff and patients within dental settings across the winter. This is likely to be in place until March/April 2022
  • Treatment deferred for patients with suspected or confirmed respiratory infection if it is considered clinically appropriate
  • Patients with symptoms or a confirmed respiratory infection, and whose treatment cannot be deferred, should be segregated or isolated. Eg separated by space or time from other patients
  • Finally a continuation of a two metre physical distance for patients with suspected or confirmed respiratory infection.

The publication of new standard operating procedures (SOP), however, is yet to be released.

The updated guidance – and that which remains – can also be accessed here.


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