I trust this finds you in continued good health. We know from speaking to many of our working age patients that you have hugely enjoyed this period and some of you are even considering new ways of working so as perhaps not fall back into the overly busy routines and demands of the pre-COVID lifestyle! I for one have been surprised at how adaptable we can all be; if someone had told me at Christmas time that we would all be locked down for nearly ten weeks I would have panicked at the thought!
I am writing to give you an indication of our (tentative) plans for reopening, and the reasons behind the decisions. I would also like to offer some guidance about your forthcoming appointments.
From Monday 1st June we will progress from remote consultation and prescribing to an urgent care and emergency-only service. My scope of treatment will be limited initially, but I hope to be able to carry out any treatments required to stabilise urgent and emergency conditions that crop up, or that have occurred during our period of closure. Please feel free to call or email us now if you think you will need to be seen and we will discuss your condition beforehand. I hope to welcome my colleagues Mike and Vijay back to the practice during this period.
From Monday 15th June we will look to move towards restarting lower risk, routine care, which would include check-ups, consultations, and hygiene appointments. We MAY also reinstate facial aesthetics treatments from this date although this may get pushed back. Again we will continue to offer urgent and emergency care during this period. I will look to welcome back my colleagues Caoimhe and Jon, alongside Gayle and Francesca on the hygiene front from this date.
From Monday 6th July we will aim to re-establish a much more “normal” scope of practice – with new, elective, and non-urgent treatments considered.
AT ALL TIMES we reserve the right to change our mind on all of the above dates, and AT ALL TIMES we will expect to have a pre-treatment discussion with patients beforehand to discuss risk. If we are unable to speak to you on the telephone the day before your appointment, we may at our discretion cancel the appointment on the basis that a risk assessment has not taken place. Those of you who are shielding vulnerable family members or who are shielding yourselves should NOT attend an appointment until your shielding period is over, EXCEPT where it is absolutely necessary and where we can clearly define a greater risk of NOT seeking treatment.
The timescale set out above will intentionally be different to the timescales due to be set out by NHS England for NHS practices, who are duty bound to remain closed for a little while longer and refer all emergency patients to the NHS Urgent Dental Care centres for the time being. In fact as I write this we still have no timescales from the office of the Chief Dental Officer for England for the reopening of English NHS dental practices, although oddly there are reports in the national press this week about what might be advised. Whilst my dental colleagues in the other UK regions have consistently been given clearer guidance, I must tell you we have been badly let down by the leadership in England. Whilst we are not required to follow NHS guidelines it is incumbent on us to at least give consideration to them, so when we finally are in receipt of official guidance, I will take the liberty of reviewing my suggested timescales against what is advised. The most important thing is to operate safely and diligently; everything else for the time being is secondary.
For those of you still with appointments in the next few weeks which we deem to be in need of rescheduling, in some cases for the second or third time, perhaps you will forgive us if we find we need to email you with a new appointment rather than calling you up to reschedule; I am sure you will appreciate Virginia and I will be up against it for the first couple of weeks of June managing pre-treatment phone calls and such like! Please just reply to the email if you are not happy with the rescheduled date.
I appreciate the tremendous patience and loyalty you have all shown during the lockdown period and I am incredibly keen and excited to be starting to return to normal. It has been a long wait for dental practices – longer than we ever could have imagined – and having listened to colleagues from the USA, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Holland we seem to have been the only ones who had been mandated to shut down completely, and for so long. I dare say a big factor in this will have been the alarming lack of pandemic PPE stockpiled centrally by UK government and of course it was necessary to divert dental PPE supply chains to our wonderful front line health and social care workers for many weeks.
Whilst this disease is now on the wane, we must be alert to the possibility of a second wave, and so at Vitality I promise we will all do everything we can to ensure your visit is as safe as it can be, and that the risks – which have always existed in dentistry – are kept to a minimum.
Once again I would remind all of you with pressing dental problems to kindly start getting in touch now – I would prefer to hear from you in good time to assist with scheduling. I will be in touch again very shortly with an overview of our operating procedures for forthcoming appointments.
With warmest regards,