Dental services to resume in England from 8 June

News

  Posted by: The Probe      29th May 2020

In a letter sent to all dental practices in England, chief dental officer Sara Hurley and the director of primary care and system transformation Matt Neligan have confirmed that dental services can resume from 8 June, so long as necessary infection prevention and control requirements are in place and PPE is available.
 
The British Dental Association (BDA) has welcomed news the government has given the green light for the restoration of routine care services in England, but has cautioned that practices will need to move at different rates depending on availability and fitting of PPE, their ability to enact ongoing social distancing measures and time to implement appropriate cross-infection control.  

The BDA notes that this could see varying levels of treatments made available with immediate effect, with individual practitioners exercising their professional judgement on the pace of change. The BDA has also expressed the view that steps should be taken to integrate dentistry into the wider government strategy on PPE supply led by Lord Deighton.

Dentist leaders have also warned the whole business model that the service is based on could change unalterably upon reopening, with social distancing and cross-infection control reducing capacity and potentially access levels by as much as two thirds. The BDA is continuing to press for the NHS contractual framework to reflect the new reality and for additional support for private dentistry, including a business rates holiday – already offered to leisure and retail sectors – to be expanded to dental practices, alongside other support to mitigate against reduced patient numbers.

BDA Chair Mick Armstrong commented: “A return of high street dentistry we 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 government is willing to step up and help.”

Gabriela Pueyo, General Manager of Bupa Dental Care, which has been operating a number of Urgent Dental Centres across the UK on behalf of the NHS, said: “We are delighted that we can begin to re-open our 400+ dental practices in England from Monday 8th June  after the government announcement today. This is a vital move to prevent long term damage to our patients oral health and dentistry as a whole. We are busy preparing practices, including introducing a new Patient Charter and additional measures to continue keeping patients and staff safe.”

The letter confirming the reopening of dental practices on 8 June begins with a thank you to all for contributions during the peak pandemic period and the commitment to supporting the national response. It states that the goal for patients and professionals is to resume the safe and effective provision of the full range of care in all practices, as rapidly as is practicable and that NHS England has been working with the British Dental Association, wider professional representative groups and the dental industry to reach this consensus on the commencement of reopening services.

It also touches on financial and contractual arrangements and offers advice for the sequencing and scheduling of patients. The letter can be read in full here.


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