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Key Steps in 2022 to Deliver for Patients in NHS Dentistry

By DTA | 4th January 2022 | News

 An update from Director for Dentistry, Community Pharmacy, Optometry and the NHS Standard Contract, Ali Sparke and Chief Dental Officer England, Sara Hurley including a  link to Key steps in 2022 to deliver for patients in NHS dentistry and the latest NHS Dentistry and oral Health update Bulletin.

Link to Key steps in 2022 to deliver for patients in NHS dentistry :

We are grateful for the hard work of the entire dental team during the pandemic. As we go into 2022, it is clear that more action must be taken to increase access and dental activity for our patients.

We must now proceed to set thresholds which maximise safe patient activity and access. In November 2021, before the infection prevention control (IPC) changes, mean performance was 75% of contracted monthly UDA activity, with over a third of practices delivering above 85%. The changes to IPC guidance allow us to take a further significant step towards the full recovery of NHS dental provision and more detail is below.

We understand that many of you have questions about the Omicron variant. The mode of transmission for the Omicron variant remains the same; the continuing advice from UK IPC is to maintain diligent implementation of the recently published IPC guidance. This includes practice risk assessments and implementation of mitigations in line with the hierarchy of controls with an emphasis on ventilation throughout the practice and in particular areas where AGPs are undertaken. All patients should be screened for potential COVID-19 infection, ideally prior to attendance at the setting and on arrival, using the COVID-19 screening questions. An example of COVID-19 screening questions can be found at Appendix 1 of the UK IPC Guidance . With regards the sample screening questions practices are advised to regularly check the online version of Appendix 1 for any amendments.

Practices should continue to follow clinical prioritisation, especially for urgent care and priority groups such as children. As there is no patient registration within dentistry patients must be prioritised against clinical need and priority groups regardless of whether the member of public is on a practice's business list or not - this is a condition of ongoing financial support.

The NHS is clear - a key component of clinical prioritisation is following NICE guidelines  on check-ups, it isn't just a contractual requirement to follow them (as it has been for many years), its a professional responsibility and right now it is of critical clinical necessity.

Over the last year and a half, the NHS has made a significant commitment to NHS dental contractors to minimise financial risk and support contractors through the pandemic. We are grateful for your dedication to patients in return. The gradual return to pre-pandemic activity thresholds has reflected the proven ability of NHS dental practices to deliver and has been designed to maximise safe access for patients whilst offering fairness to contractors.

Read the full bulletin 

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