On the 25 March 2020, dental practices were instructed to close and defer routine, non-urgent dental care including orthodontics and establish remote urgent care services to limit the transmission of COVID-19. The restrictions included:
• Cease all routine dental care (including orthodontics) (UK-wide)
• Cease all aerosol generating procedures (UK-wide)
• Offer patients with urgent needs appropriate advice and prescriptions over the phone (UK-wide)
• Cease all face-to-face urgent care (England, Scotland)
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions the number of FP17 and FP17W claim forms and therefore, the totals regarding activity, patient numbers, finances and treatments, will be much lower than traditionally expected for the final quarter of 2019-20 and the entire 2020-21 financial year. It is anticipated the number of children patients will be impacted the most. Dental practices could commence opening from 8th June 2020 for all face to face care, including non-urgent treatment and where practices assessed they had the necessary safety requirements in place. Information about instructions from NHS England can be found online.
Dental headcount (2020/21)
The annual 2020/21 publication covers the first year of the coronavirus pandemic that has had a large impact on the healthcare profession. In terms of NHS dentistry, most practices were closed between April and June 2020 and some dental practitioners were redeployed to help with the initial Covid-19 response whilst others faced a longer layoff due to shielding and/or sickness. Although practices started to reopen from June 2020, increased fallow time between treatments and reduced minimum thresholds for NHS dental activity, potentially mean that not all dental practitioners returned to primary care dentistry during 2020/21. This may have contributed to the decrease in the overall dental headcount figure.