Preparing to return to work

Guidance on preparing to return to work during the coronavirus pandemic.

We are aware that throughout the UK, the pace of change towards reopening dental services is following different timetables depending on where you practise.

Indemnity

Firstly, if you have active membership with the DDU for the number of sessions you are going to be working (either remotely or face to face), you will have adequate indemnity in place when you return to work.

You don't need to tell us about your full work details - for example, the range of treatment you're providing or the equipment being used, including the personal protective equipment (PPE).

Patient care

At each stage of the returning-to-work process, there are a number of considerations to take into account about how dental care can be delivered to patients.

For any consultation with a patient (whether done remotely or face-to-face), it is also sensible to remember that all the normal dento-legal principles of consent, confidentiality, communication and recordkeeping still apply.

Before resuming face-to-face appointments, ensure that you have looked at the relevant national and local guidance and that the protocols for seeing patients at your workplace has been mapped to that guidance. These protocols will need to be kept up to date as the guidance changes.

Communicating clearly with patients about the services that are currently available will be a key message. It will also be important to try and make sure the patient understands what to expect, and how their attendance may differ from a previous visit. Some of the factors to consider are:

  • arrangements for accessing dental services
  • who will be providing their treatment
  • if anyone can accompany them
  • what they should do before entering the building
  • expectations of them during their attendance
  • any changes to the layout of the workplace
  • how they will be expected to pay for any treatment
  • changes to the normal length of the treatment session or the frequency of their visits.

Triage

Some practices are likely to continue to only provide remote triaging, as it might not be possible for them to start face-to-face contacts with patients for some time.

Triaging and remote consultations may also form a useful tool that many practices continue to use after face-to-face consultations and treatment resume. Prioritising the scheduling of patient appointments is likely to depend on the patient's individual circumstances. The initial assessment of any patient might need to be carried out remotely.

Urgent face-to-face appointments

If you plan to provide urgent care only, make sure patients are aware you will not be able to provide routine care before booking an appointment for them. If you are limiting the treatments available - for example, by not carrying out any treatment that might produce an aerosol - again, make sure the patient understands the limitations of the service you can provide before booking them an appointment.

Routine care

As with urgent care, if you are going to make changes to the way you provide treatment, or limit the range of treatment you plan to provide, make sure the patient understands the limitations of the service you can deliver before booking them an appointment.

Generating aerosols

If aerosols are going to be generated, the workplace protocols are likely to set out the practicalities surrounding this.

If it is anticipated that the patient's attendance is likely to generate an aerosol, it will be necessary for the clinicians and the patient to be appropriately prepared. There should be a clear operating procedure in place and all members of staff should have received the appropriate training to ensure full adherence to it.

The infection control procedures should include any extra precautions to be taken, for example any additional PPE as well as cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

Need more advice? See all of our coronavirus dento-legal guidance.

This page was correct at publication on 01/06/2020. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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