Handling patient complaints about delays in treatment due to backlogs, and situations where staff refuse a Covid-19 vaccination, are the key areas dental professionals have sought advice and support from Dental Protection in 2021, according to the dental indemnifier.
Dental Protection has revealed some of the most common advice themes from March 2020 when the pandemic hit, right through to the present. Throughout the past 18 months, dental professionals have sought advice and support from Dental Protection on a range of evolving challenges, from providing emergency care during lockdown, through to managing with limited PPE, interpreting guidance and returning to work safely.
Raj Rattan, Dental Protection’s director, said dental professionals should take some comfort in the fact that they are all seeking advice from their dental defence organisation on similar challenges, and be reassured that the team at Dental Protection remains responsive and agile to the changing dental landscape.
Some of the most common advice themes
March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic:
- Provisions for emergency care during lockdown following the closure of dental practices
- The practicalities and indemnity for running/working within Urgent Dental Care Centres and redeployment to other services
- Shortages of PPE
- Teledentistry/remote consultations and triage.
- Queries about reopening of surgeries and returning to work
- Interpretation of the Public Health England/Chief Dental Officer (CDO) guidance in the different UK jurisdictions about the return to work and provision of modified services e.g. AGPs and fallow time
- Queries in relation to the reopening of private practices
- Fit testing of FFP3 facemasks, ranging from who can do this, where they do it and who for, and appropriate indemnity arrangements
- Individual staff difficulties with wearing FFP3 facemasks and returning to work.
- Issues relating to lone working.
- Return to the more usual (non Covid-19) queries about clinical care and patient complaints in relation to their treatment
- Assisting with the flu vaccination roll-out.
January 2021 onwards:
- Covid-19 vaccination queries – administering the vaccine and appropriate indemnity arrangements
- Advice about when a member of staff refuses the vaccine
- Assisting members in managing complaints from patients because treatment has been delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions
- Advice in relation to challenging interactions with patients because of continued Covid-19 restrictions in healthcare environments and difficulties in accessing treatment due to accumulated demand
- Healthcare worker self-isolation queries.
Raj added, “Due to the rapidly changing dental landscape over the last 18 months, dental professionals have sought advice and support from Dental Protection on a plethora of often complex issues, including deciphering and adhering to evolving guidance, whilst doing their best to provide necessary care and treatment to their patients.
“We know it has been a challenging time for members, both from a professional and personal perspective and that the cumulative effects of stress have affected many dentists’ sense of mental wellbeing. The social isolation over a prolonged period has also taken its toll in many cases.
“During recent months, requests for advice and support have centred around handling complaints from patients because treatment has been delayed or because they can’t access their dentist quickly because of backlogs of work. Alongside this, many dental teams are experiencing abusive behaviour, as patients have become increasingly frustrated.
“We want to reassure all members that Dental Protection is here to offer support. Throughout the pandemic, members have and can continue to rely on us for advice and assistance. Our teams remain responsive to the evolving challenges, demonstrating thought leadership and agility to ensure that we are doing our very best to help and support.
“Please remember that Dental Protection also offers confidential counselling services as a membership benefit. This is delivered by ICAS’ independent, qualified counsellors who are available 24/7. A range of wellbeing resources are also available including apps, podcasts and webinars at www.dentalprotection.org/uk/wellbeing.”