Claire Berry explains why empty dental practices are the perfect location for COVID-19 antibody testing.
Dental centres across the UK are closing their doors or only remaining open to treat emergency cases. This leaves an abundance of medically trained dental professionals temporarily redundant. There is an opportunity to utilise these medically trained teams and clinical facilities in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Recent communication from the CDO outlines the intention of utilising dental professionals in a front line care role. However, another useful option and the one that I am petitioning for, is to use some of the redundant dental centres and their teams across the UK for COVID-19 antibody testing.
The government has spoken of plans to have said tests available on Amazon and in Boots stores. Whilst also stating that data needs collating to assess who has been asymptomatic. And indeed to know who has and has not had the virus. I feel that using dental teams for this with an appointment system will allow the antibody testing to remain organised. It also allows more effective collection of any necessary data.
What is my motivation?
The idea to use dental teams in this way came about when I was serving in the Army. I’m most probably conditioned to have an inbuilt need to help in a crisis. But I also think back to when hygienists and dentists took DNA swabs for troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. It worked extremely well.
We have clinical trained and well placed for this role. It required meticulous cross infection control to prevent contamination of the specimens taken.
This concept got me thinking – we are also very well placed to carry out COVID-19 testing. With our ability to keep our patients safe and prevent spread of the virus, all while doing it in an environment they are familiar with that is also medical and clinically clean.
We work with personal protective equipment, we have expert training in cross infection control and we can help take the data required to analyse the spread of the virus with each test taken.
Working to an appointment system, we can also ensure testing is kept calm and organised. We can ensure all data is logged and made accessible for the government. And we can help keep this data and make it accessible, something that I believe would be lacking if left for people to do individually.
The fight against COVID-19
I fully appreciate and understand why some dental centres or clinicians may not want to help us push this petition forwards. You may be vulnerable or high risk; you may be deployed in another role helping in other ways; or your time may be utilised for other worthwhile things important to you.
But there will be many of us who want to use our medical skills and knowledge to do our bit to help free up NHS key workers who may otherwise be tasked to do said testing. There will be many who want to use their otherwise redundant dental centres for something that will benefit the greater good. We are qualified to help manage this aspect of the fight against COVID-19.
To sign Claire’s petition visit http://chng.it/8BQsSkVg6g.