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Back To Work

I think we all have all gotten to grips with the gist of how to return to work.

Infection control up, footfall down. Space out patients, sneezeguards up, take temperatures of the team and the patients, surgical masks for non-AGP, FFP2 or FFP3 for AGP. Visors or appropriate eye protection during all treatment. Aprons. Correct donning and doffing, and clean everything a lot.

It has occurred to me that maybe, not too much has really changed. We were supposed to be doing a lot of this stuff pre-covid, and even if we weren’t, it all seems like a good idea.

I quite enjoy having an empty waiting room. Fortunately the vast majority of my patients arrive by car, as I work in the middle of nowhere. Letters are sent out to each patient prior to their appointment.

They are asked to:

1) Not come in if they feel ill with covid-19 symptoms (or have done within the past two weeks) or they suspect they have come into contact with a covid positive individual
2) Wear a mask (if they don’t have one, make one – if they can’t make one we’ll give them one)
3) Wait in their car, or outside the practice and call us to announce their arrival. We then come and get them when we are ready for them. The practice doors remain locked otherwise.

Personally, I love not having patients bustling about in the waiting room. I enjoy the extra time between patients. Gone are the days when patients thought it was acceptable to soldier in for their appointment with a grotty cold. I can’t work as efficiently or keep my income as high as it was, but we must remember this is a pandemic and sacrifices must be made.

Some of the specifics however still evade some many of us.

I have witnessed the following in my travels;

  1. A receptionist standing within 1m of the practice entrance, with the sole purpose of reminding every patient that enters to “maintain 2m social distancing”. Oops. I have noticed this happening in shops as well.
  2. Some members of the dental team are still convinced that extractions are AGPs. Maybe they are technically, in the most literal sense, but guidance states otherwise.
  3. How are NHS dentists being paid? Large sums are going to contract holders and varying amounts are passed onto associates. I have heard tales of some dentists receiving 100% of their month’s contract value, others as little as 30%. Still, they have it better than private dentists.
  4. Some NHS practices are no longer making NHS claims – the patients are being charged privately, and the practices still receive their NHS funding. I suspect this will cause serious problems.
  5. Some practice owners and dentists have already, it seems, found ways to exploit the current system to make more cash than they were before.

The GDC have ducked out, it would appear. This is perhaps the first time they have had the opportunity to “protect the public” in a significant way, but have unfortunately declined to participate. They have let us know that they are OK though, in case we were at all concerned.

I hope that as the months go by, we find a practical way of working that we can all agree on. If point of care testing becomes feasible on a larger scale, perhaps dental surgeries would be well equipped to help track the spread of Covid-19?

Best of luck, everyone.


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