The Current Situation
What extraordinary, unprecedented and beyond difficult times we are all currently facing.
I want to reflect on our situation and the immense challenges for us as a profession and in particular on the directive from the Chief Dental Officer (CDO) which, put simply, is to provide dental care ‘at arm’s length’. This goes against everything we, as a caring profession, believe and all our practising principles of providing care for our patients.
The success of all practices is based on building strong relationships with our patients and over many years it often morphs into more of a feeling of treating friends rather than just patients.
The only way I can ratify the counter-intuitive ways of working we now have to fall in line with is to look at this as something we are doing ‘for the greater good’ to limit the spread of this awful disease. The Hippocratic Oath implores health professions to ‘above all, do no harm’. What if a dentist were to decide to ‘just ease this lovely old patient’s denture because he can’t eat’ or to ‘see this one patient because they are being really insistent’ and then said patient or the dentist or the nurse were to inadvertently spread the disease because one of them is infected and asymptomatic? And what if those actions result in a death or deaths?
Every dental practice in the country is currently in a very difficult situation when it comes to how to deal with patients who have urgent dental needs before there is clarity on the location and operation of the proposed Urgent Dental Centres (UDC’s). These UDC’s are specialist clinics which will be set up in every town to deal with extreme dental emergencies, but as yet they have still to make an appearance, despite Government assurances they soon will.
This will be extremely challenging for every single practice and every dentist. Practices that have been built over many years on trust and on providing a caring, ethical service are now being asked to completely avoid all treatment for their loyal and trusting patients. It is impossible to overstate the enormity of this.
In response we have created a patient support system to help you. This system fits in with the new guidelines, ensures maximum safety and also provides access to information and personalised support.
If you need assistance in these uncertain times then please call 0191 567 1020 (our usual practice number) or email [email protected] and we will be happy to help if we can. We have set up a telephone support service for all our patients. This will be operated by the dentists Ken & Richard from 8.30 AM -10.00 AM, Mon-Fri, and will offer you personalised assessment, advice and support.
If medications are needed we can arrange for these to be collected from a local pharmacy. In the small number of true dental emergencies we can advise on what the next stages of your treatment will be at that time. Further to that, if you need to talk through any dental related matters, then just give us a call and we will be there for you. Calls outside of these hours will be dealt with the following day.
In a severe dental emergency the current guidelines advise patients call NHS111 number for advice. We know this is not ideal, but this is the current state of play right now.
For everyone’s protection do not come to the practice and please continue to follow the broader guidelines from NHS England regarding personal well-being, hand hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation at this time.
We will keep you updated if there is any change to this short-term, temporary arrangement and hope to back to normal working patterns as soon as possible.
Please keep yourselves and your families safe and we look forward to seeing you in the near future.
Ken Harris & Richard Coates