Coronavirus (COVID-19)- Information for our patients and referring practitioners
The situation with Coronavirus in the UK is unprecedented and is providing us with one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime, with a rapidly changing situation that poses fresh problems at every turn and at every level. Official guidance for dental practices was slow in coming, and we are monitoring the situation regularly try to continue to provide dental care to our patients, those referred to us and to protect both them, our team and the wider community.
There is plenty of information out there on Coronavirus, so I am not going to repeat information that is already in the public domain. All I would urge you to do is to only rely on official sources of information from the government, NHS and Public Health England (PHE) websites, as there is a lot of misinformation out there, including within the mainstream media.
We are currently in the delay phase, and we have a more accurate idea from live data and complex modelling what the numbers of cases will be under various scenarios. It is quite right now that the focus is now on delaying the spread of the virus until resources can be scaled up, and we are more prepared (if we can ever be) to deal with the virus. We all have a part to play in beating Coronavirus and face difficult decisions and challenges in the times ahead.
There will undoubtedly be disruption to our services and all other dental care providers, so I would ask for your patience and understanding as we review the situation on a daily basis and focus our resources where they are needed most. Please be reassured that our commitment to you remains resolute, and we aim to be back up and running as normal as soon as possible.
I appreciate you taking a few moments to read the latest information below and please feel free to keep yourself updated by visiting this page regularly as the situation unfolds and changes.
All that is really left for me to say at the moment is stay safe, follow the best available official guidance, and we look forward to welcoming you, your friends and families back to our practice when the current situation is over.
Dr Maurice Sims BDS (U.Bham), BSc (Hons) (U.wales)Dental Surgeon and Practice Principal
GDC No. 8555
Position Statements & Guidance
The Chief Dental Officer (CDO) for England Sara Hurley initially asked practices on 20/03/2020 to: Radically reduce the number of routine ‘check-ups’ by cancelling
patients from vulnerable groups and offering the option of cancellation to all others to reduce people contact and conserve PPE. Amongst her other guidance she has also asked that we consider the potential risk of asymptomatic cases attending and reduce exposure of aerosol generating procedures.
Long before this statement was issued we had already identified vulnerable patients and also those who we felt were at an increased risk who may not be officially classified as ‘vulnerable’ according to official guidelines. Taking into account this guidance, most procedures including a thorough examination create an aerosol, this guidance therefore severely limited the procedures and services we could offer.
Over the weekend of 21st/22nd March The BAOS (British Association of Oral Surgeons) released a statement which we took very seriously, and we considered at great length. The BAOS has quite rightly pointed out that by the very nature of our jobs we are in close proximity to a patients unmasked face, nose and mouth and are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19, especially without the appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). They have also made us aware that some of the most seriously ill UK patients on life-support and ventilation are previously fit and well colleagues infected by patient contact.
This meant that, should we encounter an asymptomatic patient, it was highly likely that the effective dose we would be exposed to would probably be greater than that of other medical professionals. Should we become infected, we risk not only becoming a significant casualty, but passing this onto the wider community, our team and families before we become symptomatic. At this point we ceased routine care for all patients.
At this time, guidance recommended FFP3 face masks (not the surgical ones we have stock of and always use) in order to fully protect our team and patients. These were extremely difficult to source, but we managed to source these after a short delay to enable us to continue to treat patients and provide urgent/emergency treatment, whilst protecting our team and wider community.
Since the above guidance, the CDO has issued a further statement and guidance on 25/03/2020 asking that practices have in place an urgent care telephone triage system (which we already have for registered patients) and that any urgent care which requires a face to face appointment is now referred to the ‘appropriate part of their Local Urgent Dental Care system’. All patients that we are not able to treat over the phone with Advice, Analgesia or Antibiotics, will need to be referred to the Local Urgent Dental Care System as per the guidelines we have been issued.
Our local LDC (Local Dental Committee) has also reviewed these guidelines and has re-iterated the CDO’s guidance that ‘dentists should no longer see ANY patients face to face without correct Covid-19 PPE under any circumstances. Correct PPE should include FFP3 mask, long sleeved gown and visor. The area team at the LDC are working with the NHS and PHE to set up the local urgent dental care hubs, and we will advise as soon as we know where and when these are up and running. The delay in the set up of these is aparrently due to difficulties obtaining the PPE. As of 01/04/2020 we are led to believe by the LDC that the Urgent Dental Care Centres are still not yet setup, although Bristol Dental Hospital is gearing up to come online soon. At this stage we do not know where they will accept referrals for urgent care from.
Our Current Position
We are committed to doing whatever we can to help our patients and to support our community, whilst maintaining the safety of our team and observing current guidelines. We will keep the situation under continuous review and adjust our protocols and provision of care accordingly.
The vision for our practice has always been driven by my drive for perfection, the support from my team and great patients. The safety of our patients and team has also always been of paramount importance and is never more so in light of the current situation.
It therefore saddens me greatly to have to temporarily reduce the amount of care we provide (including urgent face to face care) and have contacted all our patients affected by this. If you have an appointment with us that has not been cancelled please bear with us whilst we keep this under constant review and will be in touch as soon as possible.
Our practice is now closed for routine care, and we will not be accepting visitors to the practice until further notice.
Emergency care and advice for will be triaged through our phone system and clinical team. If you are a registered patient with us please call our usual number. If you require emergency treatment this will now need to be provided by designated Local Urgent Dental Care units when these are up and running.
For non-emergency care and advice we would ask that patients drop an e-mail to our reception team who will triage this and pass this onto our clinical team to get in touch as soon as possible.
In light of the latest guidance meaning all dental practices will no longer be able to see any patients face to face or even provide urgent/emergency treatment and as NHS 111 and local GP’s are likely to be busy we have extended our emergency care and advice service to non-registered patients.
We are currently setting up the appropriate systems to allow us to do this. In the meantime if you are a non-registered patient and require some advice please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our phone lines are still open for registered patients although there may be a delay in responding to e-mails and answering calls and our opening hours may change due to various factors, so please be patient with us, and we thank you in advance for your support and understanding.
If you already have an appointment with us in the near future which is affected by the change to our services, our team will have been in touch. As things move forward we will continue to review appointments and the team will be in touch if changes are required. If your phone number or e-mail address has changed, please let us know asap to ensure we are able to communicate with you.
Correct as of 01/04/2020 – The situation is developing rapidly, and we have done our best to interpret the current guidance and simplify this for patients. If you feel any information is incorrect and guidance has changed which we are unaware of please contact us immediately.