Central ‘urgent care only’ service being readied
The office of Scotland’s chief dental officer was preparing to order the complete shutdown of dental practices as Scottish Dental went to print.
By the middle of last month, dentists had been told to phase out aerosol generating procedures and cease routine dental care for people in vulnerable groups such as older people, those with underlying health conditions, and expectant mothers.
Then, with the subsequent closure of schools, colleges, and hospitality and leisure outlets, and the increased emphasis on social distancing, practices were told that “all routine dentistry should cease”.
They were advised: “Practices should work together in localities through ‘buddy arrangements’ to ensure that people can make contact with a dental professional during normal working hours.
“This contact should be by telephone to avoid patients presenting at a practice, to minimise any contact whilst travelling or in the practice. Practice teams should make every effort to triage, advise and reassure patients who have a dental problem.”
At the time of this second round of guidance being issued, on 23 March, the profession was warned: “In the event of a significant and rapid escalation of COVID-19, NHS Boards will move to a centralised urgent care only service for people who are asymptomatic for COVID-19.
“They will require assistance from dental team members in practices to contribute to the staff rota at the centre. NHS Boards must ensure that PDS/ HDS dental teams at the designated urgent care centres have been trained in the use of and access to FFP3 respirators.”
In Glasgow, practices were being asked by the health authority to consider what PPE and other stock they had that could be “redeployed into the urgent care hubs for when the service inevitably condenses following practice closures”.
An official said: “We are currently looking to identify what we are describing as ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots/locations where, moving forward, we can treat emergency patients, whether they are symptomatic or non-symptomatic, COVID-19 patients. We are establishing teams who can work from these locations on a rotational basis.”
Tom Ferris, the Chief Dental Officer, commented: “These are incredibly challenging times and I value your continuing support and appreciate the tremendous dental team efforts taking place across GDS practices, PDS and HDS services and NHS Boards in Scotland. Together we will get through this.”