As the dust of confusion begins to settle and clear, I can now explain where we stand with regard to opening for business again. Please bear in mind though that regulations may change again before the end of the month. Please keep checking this blog for updates.
Firstly, we have had a problem with our server automatically sending out appointment recall messages and reminders and allowing online booking. Hopefully this has now been stopped, but for the avoidance of doubt, please understand that NO routine appointments can be booked at the moment. If you have a check-up or hygiene appointment booked, or if you have been asked to book one, there are no appointments allowed under the current guidelines. So, no routine appointments are valid. If you have not been contacted by telephone and pre-screened, your appointment is not valid. I apologise for any confusion caused.
Secondly, we opened for treatment of emergency patients on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th June. We were allowed to do basic first aid treatments. The practice has shut down again until at least the end of June while we prepare for more normal opening but telephone advice (as before) is still available during this period. See previous blogs for the number to call.
Thirdly, the main problem for dentists operating is the potential for infective spray created during our drilling, scaling and spraying in the mouth. These are called ‘aerosol generating procedures’ (AGP’s). At the moment we have to assume that any of our patients could carry the Covid 19 virus and we must have rigid precautions in place before we are allowed to perform any AGP’s. The regulations require us to have:
• Special certified respirator masks which have to be tested for proper facial seals on each individual person by a certified external tester.
• Full PPE with, long sleeve surgical gown, caps, visors, shoe coverings etc. (We are currently trying to source the required PPE.)
• A ‘fallow period’ of one hour after an AGP (to allow droplets to settle) before we are allowed to enter and clean the surgery surfaces. This means that whenever we perform an AGP, we cannot use the surgery again for at least 75 minutes.
I think you will understand that this mode of practice is far from ‘normal’ for us.
The consequences are that we will have to prioritise patients when we do open and risk-assess every AGP to make sure we only do an AGP when it is absolutely necessary. Patients will be prioritised as follows:
1. Those requiring emergency or urgent treatment and those requiring follow-up treatment from temporary emergency treatment.
2. Those who were under treatment at the time of lockdown and need to have treatment completed.
3. Those requiring non-urgent treatment that is necessary to prevent deterioration to a potential for urgent treatment.
After dealing with these priority groups we will be able to book normal check-up appointments for patients who are not at risk.
Please note though that the current situation means that ALL hygiene appointments are disallowed until further notice. We believe that it will be at least September before hygiene appointments can be considered again.
I am genuinely sorry that we are unable to resume normal operations for our patients. Believe me, we are desperate to get back to normal as soon as possible. The financial implications of 3 months without income and (?) months at 25% capacity (with increased costs) are perilous for dental practices.
Thank you for your patience and consideration,
Jeremy and the team