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FAQs

Please see below for advice on COVID-19 for DCPs

This page is being updated frequently. Please visit regularly to stay abreast of updates and advice from the Faculty.

Last updated : 20/04/20

Information Regarding Pay

Is there financial support availible for DCP staff?

NHS practices are being financially supported across Wales on the understanding that all NHS staff in post in March 2020 will be retained. This includes associates and DCPs, who have undertaken NHS care. Their pay should be protected at previous levels to reflect their NHS work, with no redundancies being made.

For those Self Employed DCPs who work in a mixed private/NHS practice it's complicated. They should be offered and receive the proportion of their income that relates to their NHS work. However if this is a relatively low portion of their income, individuals may decide to only apply through wider UK Government as support cannot be duplicated or overlap.

For those DCPs that undertake private dentistry, they will be able to claim this element of their income through the Government’s support for self-employed workers

Will I get paid if I have to self-isolate?

You may do through sick pay which varies from employer to employer.

Many employees will have contracts that allow them their normal pay while they are unable to work because they are sick.

Even where people do not get their fully paid sick leave, or if they work in jobs where they do not have contractual sick leave, there may be minimum payments they can rely on, known as statutory sick pay (SSP).

More on SSP...

SSP is money paid by employers, so self-employed workers are not eligible, but casual and/or agency workers are.

SSP will be paid to people who need to be off if they or their family have symptoms. People should be able to obtain a sick note from the NHS 111 service rather than getting one from a GP.

The rules were also changed so that those people would be eligible for SSP on their first day away from work, instead of having to wait until the fourth day as was previously used to be the case.

It is set at £94.25 a week, although employers could pay more if they want to. To get SSP you need to be earning at least £118 a week.

Will I get paid if I need to look after my children?

When your children's school is closed, or if you have a relative who is ill, your employer must give you time off to look after them.

But your employer is not forced to pay you unless your contract requires it.

However, many employers are allowing parents to work flexibly, to try to manage both work and childcare.

Key workers, who have been defined by the government, can still send children to school or nursery.

What financial support will my NHS practice receive?

During this pandemic, NHS dental practices will be funded to 80% of their contract value from April to June 2020 and this will be kept under review, going forward. The use of Units of Dental Activity as a metric of clinical activity and payment, will be suspended during this time. It is acknowledged that the funding support offered to NHS practices is not at 100% of their contract value, but this reflects the wider support from the Welsh Government and initiatives across the United Kingdom.

These payments to NHS practices are conditional on the understanding that all staff in post (March 2020) will be retained and their NHS pay protected at previous levels to reflect their NHS work, with no redundancies being made in relation to NHS commitments.

Please see Business Continuity and Financial Support document in the Official Comms section for full information.


Information Regarding Annual Leave

How will Coronavirus affect my annual leave?

Many workers are experiencing complications with their annual leave due to Coronavirus outbreak, in particular not being able to take their whole annual leave entitlement.

In light of this, the government has introduced new regulations surrounding annual leave (holiday entitlement), these new regulations cover:

  • Carrying over holiday
  • Being sent home because there’s no work
  • Agreeing how extra annual leave is carried over
  • Reaching an agreement with your employer
  • Bank holidays
  • Previously booked holidays
  • Using holiday for a temporary workplace closure

Full details of these regulations can be found on the ACAS website


Information Regarding Mental Health and Wellbeing

Can I access mental health and wellbeing support in Wales for DCPs?

The mental health of all healthcare workers is an important priority for the Welsh Government.

For DCPs, the Faculty offers the opportunity to discuss any mental health issues using the COVID contact form on this website. This is staffed by DCPs, who have had training in dealing with mental health problems and who can sign-post you to appropriate resources.

The Faculty also recommend the online resources provided by HEIW - Supportive resources and tools

Can DCPs working in the NHS access national metal health support schemes?

As front line workers, DCPs working in the NHS in Wales can now access a free mental health support service.

This service, originally developed for doctors, has been expanded to provide support and advice for all front-line NHS Wales staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service offers the following support:

  • A dedicated helpline;
  • A network of doctor advisors;
  • Access to a network of British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) accredited counsellors, and;
  • Access to expert clinical support/opinion for all doctors and counsellors in more complex cases

The service is available by calling 0800 058 2738, visiting https://www.hhpwales.co.uk/ or by emailing HHPCOVID19@cf.ac.uk

Staff can also access free online stress control tools at www.stresscontrol.org


Information Regarding Training

Do I have to keep up with my appraisals and mandatory training?

As detailed in the letter from the Deputy Chief Dental Officer, many ‘normal’ duties are being suspended during this time and staff may also be redeployed. As a result, the Welsh Government (WG) have taken the view that all appraisal and mandatory training requirements should be suspended for dental teams until the 1st of October 2020 in Wales. This suspension period will be kept under review as WG continue to respond to the COVID outbreak.

Will my Dental Nurse Training be disrupted?

Dental Nurse training will be disrupted. Clinical teaching, lectures, tutorials, observations, assessments and final examinations will all be affected. It is very likely that the way in which you learn, and study will take place in a very different way. The Faculty have been advised that the individual training provider and the awarding body have been working towards a solution and considering arrangements suitable to the award and qualification that you are undertaking.

Currently the General Dental Council have asked all providers and awarding bodies to provide details of changes to arrangements for examinations being put in place, demonstrating how students can complete their programme.

We appreciate that there are a number of different training providers and qualifications. We encourage you to visit the website of your training provider for more information.

Can I continue my Wales Dental Therapy Foundation Training?

Health Education and Improvement Wales have pledged financial support to allow all Dental Therapists undergoing the Foundation Training scheme to complete their training.


Information Regarding Redeployment

Will DCPs in Wales be required to redeploy?

As detailed in the ‘Red Alert’ letter from the Chief Dental Officer in Wales, NHS practices should remain open to triage, advise and reassure patients who have a dental problem by telephone.

Redeployment for the clinical dental workforce (including DCPs) remains voluntary in Wales. For full details of the approach taken in Wales, please see the redeployment information sheet.

How do I volunteer to be redeployed?

Prior to volunteering, dental team members from dental practices with NHS contracts, must discuss their wish to redeploy with their practice owner. Their discretion should be based on their ability to deliver to the current service model provided across Wales. Volunteers from other sectors must seek the approval from their line manager, as appropriate, to ensure current levels of service can be maintained.

Redeployment across Wales is being managed by COVID-hub. To register your interest in being redeployed, please visit the COVID-hub website

Full details of the redeployment approach taken in Wales, please see the redeployment information sheet.

Will Crown indemnity cover NHS workers being redeployed?

Should NHS dental staff wish to be redeployed to help with their Health Board’s COVID response, they will be need to be issued with an Honorary Contract, in order to receive Crown Indemnity. NHS dental staff wishing to be redeployed should discuss this with their practice owner first.


Information Regarding PPE

What is the revised guidance from PHE?

UK Governments have been working with, NHS and Public Health leaders to revise guidance about PPE for NHS clinicians treating patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus COVID-19.

Discussions have been taking place between the 4 x UK CDOs to ensure a collaborative approach to this issue in dentistry.

New guidance was issued on 2 April 2020.

Welsh Government intend to publish supplemental guidance for dental teams in Wales so everyone has clarity of what it means for them and their teams.

The guidance advises some key changes which include:

  • In some circumstances some PPE can be worn for an entire session and doesn’t need to be changed between patients
  • When carrying out aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) clinicians should wear a higher level of protective equipment, including sessional use gowns covered by single use aprons.
  • When there is community transmission of coronavirus, staff should use gloves, apron, surgical mask and eye protection for all patients

Please see tables 1-3 on the PHE website for details of the revised guidance.

Should clinicians be doing extractions without face masks?

For ‘normal’ extractions (that won’t require any surgical intervention), these should only be undertaken in dental practices, when all other routes for management have been exhausted.* NHS staff should use surgical masks and protective eye-wear. If it is anticipated that ‘normal’ extractions might require a surgical intervention, these should be referred to the Urgent Dental Care Centres across Wales. Just a reminder that no patient should attend the practice or urgent centre in person without a pre-agreed assessment / treatment slot.

No surgical extractions should be undertaken in dental practices as they are classed as an Aerosol Generating Procedure (AGP). These should only be undertaken in the Urgent Dental Care Centres across Wales, if deemed necessary. All AGPs in dental practices should now stop. Urgent Dental Care Centres across Wales are being provided with FFP3 to provide necessary care and AGPs, when needed. As FFP3s are a limited resource, it is not practical to supply every NHS dental practice team in Wales.

*Dentists can offer remote prescriptions, analgesics and antimicrobials, by contacting local pharmacists. The pharmacist can supply a medicine provided the dentist undertakes to provide a physical prescription within 72 hours of making the request (Human Medicines Regulations)

How should I protect myself around patients?

If assessment in person is required, robust standard PPE procedures should be used.

Dental practices should only see patients who are asymptomatic and try to keep face to face assessments and (non-AGP) dental treatment to a minimum and only to meet urgent treatment need.

Please note that as FFP3 is a limited resource, it is currently not practical to fit-test and supply these to every dental practice team in Wales.


Information Regarding Self-isolation

Should I stay at home?

It is strongly advised, that people aged 70 or over, people with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women should stay at home.

Dental team members who are pregnant or otherwise immunosuppressed should not provide or assist in the direct care or assessment of patients.

What if I'm pregnant?

The ‘Red Alert’ letter from the Chief Dental Officer in Wales states that all pregnant staff should not see patients. It also contains detailed information on the assessment and treatment of dental emergencies in the NHS. All dental team members who are pregnant should not provide or assist in the direct care or assessment of patients. This aligns with RCOG guidelines


Information Regarding DCP classification

Are DCPs identified as key workers in Wales?

The view of the Welsh Government is that DCPs are considered to be key workers in Wales.


Information Regarding Staying Open

Does my NHS dental practice need to stay open?

NHS practices are to remain ‘open for contact’ and will need to commit to providing Health Boards with details of activity every fortnight. They will also need to ensure an NHS dentist is available, during normal practice opening hours, to give telephone advice and direction to patients including remote prescriptions. Other practice staff (DCPs and receptionists) can be utilised to triage general information calls and to arrange a call back from the dentist, but they should not be used to give clinical advice to patients reporting dental problems.

NHS practices and services should remain open (via a local rota and skeleton staff) and should make every effort to triage, advise and reassure NHS patients who have a dental problem by telephone.

What procedures should be stopped?

For dental teams, the following should be stopped until further notice:

  • Routine scheduled dentistry;
  • Aerosol generating procedures (AGPs);

All dental treatment, that can be, should be delayed at present.

Can I practice without a dental nurse?

If assessment in person is required, please consider the current guidelines set by the General Dental Council.

The General Dental Council guidelines make clear that you must be appropriately supported when treating patients except in exceptional circumstances. However, professional judgement remains key when making decisions such as working without a dental nurse.

The Health Boards are however, working to ensure that appropriate emergency provision is put in place for patients with acute dental conditions. It may also be pertinent to seek advice from your indemnity provider.

Can dental practices still offer prescriptions?

Dentists can offer remote prescription, analgesics and antimicrobials, by contacting local pharmacists. The pharmacist can supply a medicine provided the dentist undertakes to provide a physical prescription within 72 hours of making the request (Human Medicines Regulations).


Information Regarding Patients

What should I do with a patient with COVID-19?

Emergency Centres for COVID patients (treated with FFP3) are being established across Wales and Health Boards will work with local practices to ensure they have the details of the booking system.

What advice can I give my patients?

The Welsh Government advises all NHS patients to stay at home, unless they have dental pain or problems. In this circumstances, they are to follow the process detailed below:

  • If they have an NHS dentist, they will need to contact their NHS practice.
  • If they don’t have an NHS dentist, they will need to call NHS 111 and the dental contact telephone number for your health board area will be made available to them.
  • As all routine NHS dental care and treatment has been cancelled during this period, they should try to alleviate any dental problems or pain by taking analgesics such as paracetamol.
  • If their dental pain or problem is still unmanageable or is an emergency (e.g. severe swelling from an abscess) then they should be invited for an assessment (via the NHS practice if they have an NHS dentist and via NHS 111 if they don’t).
  • The assessment will take place as above, if they have an NHS dentist and don’t have any symptoms associated with Covid-19.
  • However, if they or anyone in their home is displaying a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, even if it’s mild, their assessment should take place at a designated urgent dental care centre in your health board area.
  • Dentists are the oral health care specialists in primary care, so they shouldn’t contact their GP or pharmacy.
  • During this period and where possible, NHS dental practices will remain open, although they will only be providing telephone advice and providing very urgent dental care for patients that do not have any symptoms of Covid-19 and that cannot be delayed.


Information Regarding Additional Practical Support

Can I Access a Mentor?

Things are tough for everyone now and are likely to be for some time. Now might be a good time to talk to a colleague about how this is affecting you. A group of dental professionals who are also experienced/qualified coach-mentors have come together to offer pro bono mentoring support, so you can access support without having to pay for it

What we can offer

Mentoring support - the here and now - fears, anxiety, strong emotions. Signpost you to more specialist skills, organisations and reliable sources of information. Help you think through what the current situation means for your career going forward once the crisis is over.

List of mentors available at: www.dentalmentorsuk.com. You should contact the mentor of your choice directly to arrange a telephone call.