Tom Ferris, the CDO for Scotland, has unveiled steps aimed at getting the dental profession back to work.
The three-phase plan focuses on the remobilisation of NHS dental services in Scotland as the pressures of the pandemic begin to ease.
He writes: ‘We need to take into consideration the added risk of aerosol generating procedures on COVID-19 transmission; the availability of appropriate PPE is also a major consideration in how we shape the recovery and mobilise NHS dental services.
This phase will focus on increasing the capacity of urgent dental care centres (UDCs).
Dental practices will remain closed when it comes to face-to-face patient consultation. Dental practices should work with their NHS boards to prepare for the return of patients under phase two.
He writes: ‘We are now expanding capacity in these centres to increase the scope of treatments available to patients. UDCCs will move as soon as possible towards dealing with red, amber and green care set down in the SDCEP guidance.’
As a result, they will be able to provide an expanded list of treatments for acute and essential care.
Where there is a requirement for patients to have a face-to-face UDC appointment, a ‘differential or definitive diagnosis’ should be provided.
The second phase focuses on restarting NHS dental services in practice.
The first part (2a) states all dental practices will open for face-to-face consultation. This is for patients in need of urgent care that can be provided using non-AGPs.
Following this, the second part (2b) states face-to-face consultation will be expanded for patients who can be seen for routine care. This includes examination and treatment that can be provided using non-AGPs.
Aerosol-generating procedures, however, will be undertaken at UDCs.
Additionally, a ‘practice recovery toolkit’ will be developed to provide preparation guidance to dental practices. Dental practices should prepare a single surgery to provide urgent care on their premises with appropriate social distancing measures.
No specific timeline has been provided. However, the CDO writes: ‘We anticipate having made some progress by 31 July 2020, with a minimum 2(a) in every practice.
‘Phase 2(b) is dependent on the availability and supply of appropriate PPE and a wider picture around the relaxation of lockdown across Scotland.’
Finally, the third and final phase envisages a ‘limited introduction of AGPs to dental practices. This is dependent on evidence of risk and possible mitigation.
Additionally, the CDO for Scotland said dental teams will be updated on the PPE supply. This is with the intention of matching any phased remobilisation to the levels of PPE at the time.
Dental practices may also be asked to support community testing programmes as part of its return to work.
In relation to funding, alternative models are being considered with the plan of providing a ‘more sustainable income level’. NHS financial support will be look at for each phase of recovery.
Find out more about Dentistry’s Back to Practice campaign.