March 2021 Covid Update

We’ve now been back at the Practice for over 6 months and have been able to help those Practice members who made contact with us during the shutdown period. We are providing a full range of Aerosol Generating Procedures and have restarted Periotherapy and Examination visits including for some children. The ongoing restrictions mean that we are only able to operate at approximately 40% capacity and will need to continue to cancel and rebook some appointments on a rolling basis depending on how guidance evolves. You need take no further action if you have a scheduled appointment as we will be in contact with you if required.

As always, our aim is to keep our Practice Members and Team safe and new Protocols and Processes are in place to facilitate this. We will now ask you to fill in your medical history and other forms, ahead of time, via our Patient Portal. This will be explained, along with the other new protocols, when we contact you to make your appointment. We will also continue to provide updated information on our answer machine, via our Facebook page and here.

We would like to remind you that, as per previously, if you have an appointment scheduled or a dental problem and are showing any signs or symptoms of COVID (high temperature, dry cough etc) or are part of a household that is self-isolating we would ask you NOT to come into the Practice. Telephone us on 01361882262 and we will help you ascertain the most appropriate course of action for your situation at the time.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries. Thank you in advance for your co-operation and please stay safe yourselves.

Covid Frequently Asked Questions

How do I acquire my Oral Hygene Products Now?

We are aware that some of you are struggling to access the particular products you prefer to use to take care of your teeth and gums. We are now able to take telephone payment for amounts in excess of £10.00 and if you wish to purchase Your oral hygiene aids from the Practice please call or email us and we will then post the items out to you. (No charge will be made to Plan patients for Mainland UK Postage). We are also investigating a partnership with an online supplier set up by dentists that would allow you to buy products we recommend online at your leisure. We will let you know when this becomes available.

Are there any ways, other than by credit card, that I can make remote payment?

Yes – we can also accept payment by BACS if pre-agreed with the Practice. Details can be provided on request.

You will need to put your name and last two digits of the year you were born as a reference e.g. for John Smith Date of Birth 1978 the Payee reference would be JOHNSMITH78

If you have any queries or difficulties with this please do not hesitate to contact us.

Are Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) allowed in Practice again?

Yes. All our clinical team members have been individually, custom fitted for the extra protective equipment needed and the Practice surroundings and Team are fully prepared for the enhanced measures currently required when providing AGPs.

We have recommenced non urgent AGPs such as routine fillings, crown preparations etc as well. In order to allow us to prioritise patients based on clinical need and to implement any changes in Scottish Government guidance we currently manage our AGP appointments on a week-by-week basis. You will be placed on a waiting list and contacted when we can accommodate you.

What is the special measure surcharge and why am I being asked to pay it?

We have introduced a “Special measures” (previously called “PPE”) surcharge. We felt it necessary to do this because the current National COVID status requires that we take extra precautions when we see patients. These include: –

  • an extreme reduction in the number of patients who attend the Practice daily – down from 60-80 to 20-25 patients per day for the whole Practice
  • extra time between each patient to allow for additional cleaning measures over and above our usual rigorous standard infection control procedures. This is currently 10 minutes per appointment for procedures that do not involve AGPS. We require 50 minutes after every AGP appointment in order to allow for “fallow time” (This allows any aerosol generated to settle before cleaning can commence), enhanced cleaning and set up time before the next AGP can be delivered.

These extra time gaps also allow us to ensure that the we can facilitate Practice members’ entry to and exit from the building with a minimum amount of interaction with any other member i.e., physical distancing

  • Extra personal protective equipment (PPE) required. This is now much more expense than pre-COVID. Boxes of masks that we were able to buy in at £3.80 per box in March 2020 are currently costing us £34.50 a box. There have been similar cost increases for gloves etc too, and as well as the Dentist and Nurse treating you, all other team members are now required to wear enhanced PPE. AGP procedures require FFP3 masks (that cost even more) and additional items such as surgical gowns are needed. There are also general issues with consistent access to supplies.
  • the provision of extra hand sanitising stations throughout the building
  • the provision of a protective screen at reception
  • provision of extra time and personnel for cleaning the building at the end of each session (Lunchtime and end of day)

When reviewing how this would impact on the Practice, we discussed incorporating the additional costs incurred into a general fee rise. We do not believe this would have been very transparent and we are also aiming to reduce/remove this surcharge as the PPE costs normalise again and when the other special measures are reduced/removed. Currently, the special measures surcharge for a non AGP procedure is £10. AGP procedures incur a higher special measures surcharge of £30. All special measure surcharges apply per appointment and we will, therefore, treatment plan your care to minimise the number of visits required to deliver it taking into account any particular circumstances that apply to you.

As from March 1 2021, in recognition of their continued support for the Practice, we will be waiving the non-AGP special measures surcharge for ALL Plan patients and applying a 33% discount, as opposed to the standard 10% discount, to any AGP surcharge. This means that they will no longer pay the surcharge fee at all on for Dental Health Review or non- AGP Periotherapy visits (Hand instrumentation) and will be charged £20 instead of £30 if they need to return for any aerosol generating procedure (AGP). Please note that Ultrasonic Periotherapy is classed as an AGP because the ultrasonic machine creates aerosols when in use.

At present this surcharge does not apply to NHS patients because, during the current Route Map to Recovery Phase of the pandemic, the Scottish Government has changed its model of funding for NHS dental care to take into account the current complexities of delivering that care and the vastly increased costs of acquiring PPE. This means that, in the short term, the NHS is providing a proportion of the PPE required to treat NHS patients. Scottish Government has indicated that this is unlikely to be the case medium to long term. They have not, however, shared any further details of how and at what level support will be available to Practices going forward and once we have the detail, we plan to share that with you.

If, however, you elect to have a private item of care now or in the future e.g., a Sports Mouthguard or replacement Orthodontic retainers, then the Special measures Surcharge will need to apply.

What about Forward Planning current and future appointments?

We reinstated forward booking of future appointments for Dental Health Reviews and Periotherapy visits last September. With hindsight, this has proved to be a little optimistic and, as previously warned, we will have to make changes to the diaries for March/April /May 2021 at least. We will do this on a rolling basis week by week as we go and will be in contact with you nearer the time if you are affected.

These circumstances also apply to the allocation of current appointments e.g., when we phone to offer Dental Health Reviews, treatment appointments etc. Currently, we can only make the books up on a week-by-week basis so that we can prioritise appointment allocation based on clinical need as well as accommodate the constantly changing dental care environment. We apologise in advance if this causes inconvenience. We are working hard to reach a more predictable position and make life simpler for both You and ourselves.

We will continue to book recall appointments in advance, as we did pre-pandemic, from now on.

Why is the Practice calling ahead of my appointment and why does it take so long to make a simple appointment at the moment?

As mentioned above, our current situation is very fluid. We also need to comply with current guidance regarding pre- appointment COVID screening as well as explaining the new Patient Journey through the building and answering any queries. This all takes time (usually 5-10 minutes depending on circumstances). Please be patient with us and hear us out as we aim to progress through the telephone call in a logical manner so that we cover all the bases necessary to ensure everyone’s safety, including your own. You will be able to raise queries with the team before the telephone call ends. If you do not have the time to speak to us when we call please feel free to let us know and we can arrange a mutually convenient time to speak again. This process is now beginning to speed up a little as more and more Practice members are familiar with the new processes, having already attended at least once since August 2020.

In response to feedback from Practice members and our Team we have also made some adjustments to our processes which we hope will streamline things as much as possible in the circumstances

  1. We have made our Patient Journey Video available on a private You Tube channel Protocols change and to ensure you view the most current version this will be shared with you ahead of your appointment.

This has cut down on explanation time over the phone and answer any queries you may have. If not, please feel free to contact us via phone or email once you have watched it. Patients without access to You tube will still continue to have the journey explained to them over the telephone as per previously.

  1. We will send out your medical history and COVID Pre-screening forms via email or text 24-48 hours ahead of the appointment. For appointments made in advance, please ensure that these are completed by 5pm on the day before your appointment otherwise we may not be able to see you on the day. For emergency appointments being seen on the day please complete the forms immediately you receive the link. Patients who do not have access to email or mobile phones will be able to complete the forms using an alternate method and this will be explained at the time of making the appointment.

If anything changes regarding your health or COVID status ahead of your appointment then please call and let us know immediately BEFORE attending the Practice. As always, please do not come to the Practice if You, or anyone in your household is exhibiting any of the signs or symptoms of COVID or if You or anyone in your household have been asked to self-isolate by a Track and Trace team. If you are unsure of your status in regard to receiving dental treatment then please call us before coming to the Practice.

What happens if I have a dental emergency?

If you experience a dental emergency, please call us at the practice on 01361882262. You will then either be able to access advice and care as appropriate or be given instructions as to how to access advice and support depending on whether your contact is during normal working hours or not.

Whilst restrictions to the way in which we deliver AGPs are in place it may be necessary for a dentist to call you back after your initial conversation with our reception team. This is necessary to get more specific information regarding your issue prior to making the appropriate type and length of appointment at the Practice or making an onward referral. It aims to ensure we can deliver the best care to you as smoothly as possible and with the least number of appointments required.

What about patients under 18 years old?

We are aware that some of you have children who attend the Practice and all the current information appears to refer to our adult patients only. We have now recommenced services for our patients under 18 years old in a limited capacity. Priority is being given to those at highest risk and on the Childsmile programme.

Current NHS guidance is to restrict daily throughput of individuals into the building. All children at the Practice are seen under NHS terms and conditions and we are respecting this guidance. If, however, anyone under 18 has any concerns or issues then please do not hesitate to get in contact with us by calling 01361882262 or emailing info@dunsdentalpractice.co.uk as per normal. If the matter is urgent it would be better to telephone than email if at all possible.