NHS dental practice openingDental practices across Scotland can resume NHS patient care from today, NHS Scotland has announced.

Guidance states dentists can provide any urgent dental treatment that doesn’t create an aerosol. NHS Scotland also claims that dentists have received all the PPE necessary to carry these procedures out.

The move is part of the second phase of resumption of the NHS dental services in Scotland.

‘Dental practices will be able to see NHS patients in need of urgent care for face-to-face consultation,’ chief dental officer, Tom Ferris, says. ‘They can use procedures which limit the risk of spreading coronavirus, such as non-aerosol generating procedures. This will mean up to an additional 10,000 appointment slots available per day across Scotland.

‘Dentists and dental teams are aware of the absolute necessity to ensure patient and staff safety as we move to the next phase, as well as public health more generally.

‘The Scottish government will continue to fund the NHS financial sustainability measures during this phase.’

Phased return

Tom Ferris unveiled steps aimed at getting the dental profession back to work towards the end of May.

The three-phase plan focuses on the remobilisation of NHS dental services in Scotland as the pressures of the pandemic begin to ease.

Phase two

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 expand for patients who can continue routine care. This includes examination and treatment that can be provided using non-AGPs.

UDCs will undertake aerosol-generating procedures, however.

Additionally, NHS Scotland will develop a ‘practice recovery toolkit’ 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.’

Phase three

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.