CDO Sara Hurley speaks out after change in COVID-19 alert level

The chief dental officer for England, Sara Hurley, has reconfirmed the profession's position after the government raises the UK COVID-19 alert levelThe chief dental officer for England, Sara Hurley, has reconfirmed the profession’s position after the government raises the UK COVID-19 alert level.

On Monday, the UK’s chief medical officers recommended moving the alert level from 3 (virus is in general circulation) to 4 (virus is in general circulation, transmission is high or rising exponentially).

As a result, many are questioning what the new status means for dentistry.

Local decisions

In a letter to practices, Sara Hurley confirmed:

  • Practices should continue to restore activity in line with the SOPs and letters currently in force
  • The current SOP for primary care dentistry continues to apply. It contains certain updates in relation to support management of the second wave
  • Practices should remain open for face-to-face treatment. Additionally, they should continue to triage patients remotely in advance and use remote consultations where appropriate. An emphasis is placed on ensuring face-to-face emergency and urgent care is available. Practices should review interrupted patient care pathways and restart where appropriate. Patients who normally attend the practice should be prioritised for care in terms of their risk
  • Finally, in the case of local outbreaks, local decisions will take precedence. Practices should review their contingency plans in preparation for their response to any local lockdown direction, guidance from Public Health England or advice from NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Additionally, she added that further updates will be published by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Loan reliance

This comes as new data shows more than half of UK dental practices relied on government loans during lockdown.

According to a NASDAL survey, 52% of practices depended on the CIBLS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) or BBLS (Bounce Back Loan Scheme).

For example, around 11% of practices took out the former, with 41% taking out the latter.


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