Dental Protection offers support to dentists deciding to re-open practices


  Posted by: Dental Design      1st June 2020

Dental Protection has reassured all members working in England who choose to return to work that they will continue to be supported. While the situation with NHS practices reopening is clearer due to a general acceptance that the Chief Dental Officer (CDO)’s guidance will be followed, the position regarding private practice has been less clear and has left those dentists – many of whom are facing financial difficulties – concerned about when they can return to work and whether they would be protected if they choose to do so.

Dental Protection has said members operating in the private sector who decide to return to work can be reassured that the indemnity provided by Dental Protection will continue to meet their regulatory and legal obligations, as long as they are in active membership and paying the correct subscription for the work they will be undertaking.

It added that members will have access to support and advice if needed, and if a complaint or claim should arise from the decision to re-open, members can request assistance.

In an email to members, the organisation said that the decision to re-open rests with the individual practice owner and that while Dental Protection cannot make such decisions for dentists, it can advise members of what they should consider when making the decision, such as:

  • The GDC statement that ‘Practitioners providing NHS services will of course need to adhere to the directions given by  the CDO; other practitioners will want to take that into account in making decisions.’
  • The CQC’s stated position that it ‘cannot require providers of dental care services to close, unless we find clear evidence of a breach of our regulations that requires consideration of the use of our powers under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and associated regulations. It has also said that ‘The decision to offer dental care services is one for the provider to take.’
  • The need to adhere closely to central Government guidance on social distancing and to the most recent dental guidance documents from various agencies including PHE and the prevailing CDO guidance.
  • If you operate in the private sector, you should review existing protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and take these into account when developing your own protocols, individually or within groups, and ensure practice protocols/SOPs meet the standards set in the prevailing guidance. 
  • Undertaking a thorough clinical risk assessment of the operating environment and of the patient journey.

In the event of a complaint or claim regarding the decision to re-open or the care that was provided, Dental Protection also it would be important to be able to evidence the following:

  • Written SOPs consistent with the widely accepted evidence-base and at least as robust as those issued by the NHS
  • Evidence of understanding and adherence to the SOPs and protocols by all team members
  • Clinical records which, in additional to usual record keeping requirements, clearly show the process of care, the rationale of the clinical intervention(s), the PPE used together with details of the relevant guidance considered in clinical decision making.

Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said: “Our team at Dental Protection includes experienced clinicians, associates and practice owners, and we understand the myriad of challenges facing members during the current crisis, including the welfare of their staff, their patients and themselves. We also recognise the financial pressures they may be facing, which is why we have offered members the equivalent of two months’ subscription relief. As a profession, we may not know what the future looks like, but I can assure you that Dental Protection will be protecting members as the situation evolves.”

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