New standard operating procedure announced for England

05 February 2021
2 min read

Eric Wong, the deputy CDO for England, has released an NHS dentistry and oral health update summarising the changes to standard operating procedures in England.

His statement reads:

Dear colleague,

Right now, a lot of us are working flat out, I know my team are, so you may be forgiven for missing our changes to the standard operating procedure, which we have summarised below. The key thing to know? Record your Covid-19 test results – even if they are negative or void!

Sadly, we saw this week a member of our profession assaulted in practice. Our minister Jo Churchill said, "This is completely unacceptable. No one goes to work to be assaulted. Abuse of any sort against dentists, their teams or other patient facing professions is completely wrong & will not be tolerated". I couldn't agree more. I want my colleagues, my friends, my patients, myself, to all be able to be in practice without fear for our safety. I hope our colleague gets well soon.

One question that I have been asked repeatedly is whether we should currently be restricting our practices to urgent care only. My answer to colleagues has been a consistent no. Although there is a need to prioritise urgent care in line with the other settings of the NHS, we have been asked to maximise capacity for carrying out essential care for our patients. Where we are able to, we owe it to our patients to address the backlog of urgent and essential care that has built up since March 2020. 

The NHS is also increasing its support offer to those working in NHS dentistry. The Looking After You Too service is now up and running. This is a space for you to offload the demands of whatever you are experiencing and be supported in developing practical strategies for dealing with this. More detail is below.

We've also included details on the NHS's push to take on Covid-19 vaccine con men. The NHS will never charge for the vaccine and there is no need to apply for the vaccine – spread the message! 

When I started as deputy chief dental officer back in the summer, one of my missions was to improve communication with the frontline. This bulletin is a part of that. I'm very keen to hear from as many people in the dental family on how we can make this bulletin better and the sort of things that you want to hear from us about.

The CDO office is easily reached, just drop us a line at

All the best,


The updates to standard operating procedure are as follows:

Dentistry's standard operating procedure, 'Transition to Recovery', is published on the NHS website and changes from previous versions are in yellow. We encourage you to read this in detail.

In summary, the key changes are:

  • Symptomatic staff can access testing via the website (or call 119) and should identify themselves as essential workers. 
  • Staff with symptoms of Covid-19 should stay at home as per advice for the public. Staff who are well enough to continue working from home should be supported to do so. If staff become unwell with symptoms of Covid-19 while at work, they should put on a surgical face 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 NHS services in England. Primary care contractors that ordered lateral flow devices on or before January 17, 2021 will now have received their delivery. 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.Please be aware that it is a statutory requirement to report all results, including negative, positive or void.
  • For patients who are Covid-19 possible/confirmed cases and contacts (seen in designated Urgent Dental Care Centres only) – avoid AGPs where possible, unless there is no alternative treatment option and/or the AGP intervention cannot be deferred.

The full bulletin from February 4 is available to view here.