The National Health Service (NHS) has updated the standard operating procedure, “Transition to Recovery,” for dentists.
Among the updates, staff who present symptoms of COVID-19 can now access testing via the gov.uk website or by calling 119, and they should identify themselves as essential workers.
Also, symptomatic staff should stay at home. If they are well enough to continue working from home, they should be supported to do so, the NHS said.
If staff begin to feel symptoms of COVID-19 while they are at work, they should put on a surgical mask immediately, inform their line manager, and return home.
Lateral flow antigen testing is now being rolled out in primary care for asymptomatic staff delivering NJS services in England.
Primary care contractors that ordered lateral flow devices on or before January 17, 2021, should have received their delivery by now. Orders received after that date will be delivered as part of their business as usual deliveries from PCSE.
Patient-facing primary care staff are asked to test themselves twice weekly and report their results to Public Health England (PHE) via the NHS Digital online platform. The NHS notes that it is a statutory requirement to report all results, including negative, positive, or void.
Patients who are COVID-19 possible or confirmed cases and contacts, seen in designated urgent dental care centers only, should avoid aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs) where possible unless there is no alternative treatment option and/or the AGP intervention cannot be deferred.
The NHS also emphasized that dentists should not restrict their practices to urgent care only.
“Although there is a need to prioritize urgent care in line with the other settings of the NHS, we have been asked to maximize capacity for carrying out essential care for our patients,” said Jason Wong, NHS deputy chief dental officer.
“Where we are able to, we owe it to our patients to address the backlog of urgent and essential are that has built up since March 2020,” Wong said.