Thousands of dental professionals tuned in to the webinar hosted by the chief dental officer for England in an effort to answer industry questions regarding coronavirus.
Sara Hurley – alongside director of primary care and system transformation, Matt Neligan – went digital to discuss dental services and how they should be carried out during the coronavirus lockdown.
Speaking from Skipton House, the nurse centre for NHS England’s response to COVID-19, Dr Hurley hoped to put the dental industry at ease in the face of healthcare challenges.
More than 10,000 individuals tuned in to the webinar last Friday evening to listen and submit their questions.
Dr Hurley began by thanking the dental industry for its response to the crisis. She said: ‘I have been impressed by those members of profession who have filled responsibilities as true role models and clinical leaders in their communities.’
In case you missed it or want an overview of what was said, we have summarised the webinar into key points. The full webinar can be viewed at the bottom of the page.
Ignore misinformed information
- Dr Hurley reminded the profession that the situation often moves so quickly that their guidance is often outdated before it’s published
- She attacked the ‘chatter on the Twitter-sphere’ and the ‘misunderstanding and misdirection of those who hide behind the anonymous webpage and screen’. She said: ‘The malicious use of the internet has not helped patient care.’
- In particular, she pointed at two examples of false information. One was an unofficial database of volunteers, which has since been reported and taken down. The other was a false letter published online. She said the details of the professionals responsible have been passed onto the GDC for investigation.
- In summary, in relation to the UDAs of 2019/2020, payments will be put back a month to February 2020
- For 2020/2021, payments will be made on a monthly basis to the value of one twelfth of previous annual payments
- These measures have been put in place to help cash flow and the availability of dental staff to help wider NHS services
- In return for financial support, dental teams should work to make staff available for redeployment
- Mr Neligan acknowledged plans are ‘not perfect’ but said they were in continued talks with the BDA
- NHS support is only applicable to the NHS proportion of mixed practices
- There is no requirement for UDA claims to be made but there is some expectation to capture activity and this will be covered in due course. Activity should be captured in the normal way if a team is providing urgent care
- Four practical steps were set out for dental practices: the establishment of urgent dental care system, talking and communicating with staff about redeployment, establishing telephone consultation and proper discussion with commissioners.
- Dental professionals were reminded that most information is out there on the NHS website and standard operating procedure documents
- Many questions regarding private health issues should be aimed the Department of Health
- Private practices are not needed to contribute to urgent dental care services that are tackling coronavirus
- Those private practice teams who do want to help are urged to volunteer their skills and talents to work in the community or acute care settings.
Volunteering and redeployment
- More than 13,000 people have volunteered so far – Sana Movahedi, regional associate postgraduate dental dean, called this an ‘incredible achievement’
- The volunteering scheme is being arranged in a manner that is safe for dental workforce volunteers and for patients
- The determination of how volunteers should be used should be determined locally – each area has its own needs
- The GDC supports members of dental teams taking on roles outside normal dental practice
- Sana acknowledged there will be different teams operating in different hierarchical and clinical settings to what they are used to
- She also admitted there is a need for new guidance, induction and orientation for dental teams working in a new setting, as well as wellbeing support
- NHS England have provided training modules online.
Urgent care delivery
- Alongside redeployment, Dr Hurley emphasised it is important we do retain dental teams across various sites providing urgent dental care
- All practices are urged to maintain telephone services and liaise with pharmacies to give prescriptions where necessary. This can be done individually or in collaboration with other practices
- It was acknowledged that the activation of urgent dental care centres in certain areas have been slower than others
- An FFP3 mask is only useful if it’s been fit tested. Dentists were warned against buying them off the internet – hoping it will work without fit testing will put staff and patients at risk
- Nobody should be providing face-to-face treatment unless they are in a coronavirus local urgent dental care centre with the correct PPE
- Dental professionals were reminded they should not wear PPE if they are not undertaking infection control measures
Before signing off, Dr Hurley told the industry not to listen to the ‘myth masters’ on social media and reminded professionals they should operate on evidence, not anecdotes.
Her final message was simple: ‘Keep safe, keep strong, keep well’.