6th January 2021 GG&C LDC Update

Level 4 Restrictions; Key Worker Status; Covid Vaccinations; LDC Elections

  1. INCREASED LEVEL 4 RESTRICTIONS
    • On 5th January the First Minister increased the level 4 restrictions in an effort to curb the rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant.
    • In response to this, the Chief Dental Officer wrote to dental practitioners  to clarify what this means in terms of the remobilisation plan.
    • The key points for dental teams are:
      • Travelling for essential healthcare (including dentistry) is still permissible.
      • The full range of treatments are still available under the SDR, including AGPs.
        • We are only expected to use these in the context of resolving urgent and priority dental problems (i.e. essential healthcare).
        • This allows us to provide definitive treatment when it makes sense to do so (preventing repeat visits to the practice).
      • Cosmetic treatment
        • The CDO letter states: “Facial aesthetic treatment (Botox / fillers) is not essential healthcare (not available on the NHS) and should not be undertaken privately”
        • The letter also states: “you and your patient together, should consider whether there would be an oral health detriment to postponing purely cosmetic dental treatment and if not, this should be deferred to minimise travel around the local area”.
    • To summarise, from our interpretation it would appear that under the latest restrictions dental professionals can provide:
      • risk-assessed emergency or urgent dental care, including AGPs
      • risk-assessed and prioritised ‘routine’ dental treatment that is necessary to secure and maintain oral health, including AGPs
      • risk-assessed and justifiable cosmetic procedures, i.e. only where a delay might cause oral health problems
    • The new tier-based financial support measures have been postponed for at least 3 months with the current 85% funding being maintained.
  2. KEY WORKER STATUS
    • Today’s letter from the Chief of Dentistry reiterates the point that dental team members are to be considered key workers.
    • A proforma letter was provided for practice principals to complete on behalf of dental team members. This must be stamped and signed by practice principals to be valid.
    • It is advisable to keep a copy of this letter and photographic ID on your person when travelling to and from work in case you are met with official checks.
    • Arrangements/conditions for childcare vary between councils (many require that co-parenting households will only be eligible for childcare where both parents are key workers).
  3. PRIORITY COVID-19 TESTING FOR DENTAL TEAMS
    • Any GG&C dental team members who develop covid-19 symptoms can be referred for a priority covid test.
    • This also applies to members of your own household.
    • Referrals for a test can be made here by your line manager (i.e. practice principal or manager).
  4. COVID-19 VACCINATIONS FOR DENTAL TEAMS
    • Dentists and patient facing team members are now eligible for covid 19 vaccination as described in a letter from the health board on 31st December 2020. You will have received this letter via your practice generic inbox or NHS email account. The booking link is at the bottom of that letter.
    • The first wave of appointments is reportedly full. However, we are assured that additional appointments do become available regularly. Keep checking back via the link in the letter.
    • The reasoning for ‘second dose’ delays was set out in a JCVI statement on 31st December.
  5. DENTISTS AS COVID-19 VACCINATORS
    • Expressions of interest are invited by GG&C for dentists who wish to join the staff bank to take on shifts administering the Covid-19 vaccines.
    • Those who express an interest via the email address in the invitation will receive an application pack (provided the board still have capacity to accept new applications)
    • The application process is extremely onerous in terms of evidence, time and training. It is administered centrally by the Health Board covid vaccine recruitment team covering all branches of healthcare, not just dentists
      • Neither the Oral Health Directorate or the LDC have any role in this process, any queries should be directed to the email address in the letter.
    • If you have a PVG in place for your GG&C dental list number this should be mentioned when applying.
    • There is no guarantee that those who apply will be added to the bank. It may be best to wait and see what the uptake of dentists is like before embarking on this process given the onerous application process.
    • The expectation is that participation in the vaccination programme should only occur when it will not take away from the provision of dental services at your own practice.
    • A PCA from the CDO indicated that dentists will be paid a sessional rate to partake in the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccination programme where needed.
    • GG&C will pay dentists via central payroll and will therefore apply PAYE tax deductions. This may have significant tax implications for the self-employed. It may be worth consulting your accountant before applying.
    • NHS CNORIS will be extended to indemnify dentists who take part.
  6. LDC ELECTIONS
    • Invitations to nominate for the 2021 GG&C LDC elections will be sent out in the coming weeks. Full details of the role and the election process will be provided at the time.
    • All GDPs with an active list number in GG&C will be eligible to stand.
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