26 November 2021
NHS England has published an updated dental Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in light of this week’s revised Infection Prevention and Control Guidance.
The new SOP sees the removal of the post-aerosol generating procedure (AGP) downtime for “a significant proportion of dental patients”, while the risk-based return to Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICPs) measures for other scenarios “creates greater opportunity to address the backlog of care”.
The key changes to the SOP are:
- Clinical prioritisation of patients remains in place, with practices required to prioritise urgent care and priority groups such as children. A key component of urgent care is the provision of follow on care to further stabilise disease, treat and prevent.
- In order to maximise access when care may need to be deferred at short notice, practices should run a short notice cancellation list to minimise any lost clinical activity.
- For patients on the respiratory pathway, a further clinical assessment (i.e. triage by a dental professional) is required to determine whether routine care may be deferred until any respiratory symptoms resolve and when any COVID-19 isolation/quarantine periods has been completed.
- Individuals who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccination should be supported and encouraged to take up the offer of the 1st and 2nd doses.
- Limiting transmission of infection in health and care setting requires a range of IPC measures. The national IPC guidance contains a ‘hierarchy of controls’ which, if applied in order, are used to identify the appropriate controls. The SOP adapts these controls for the dental setting and can be found in appendix A (page 16).
The Chief Dental Officer for England, Sara Hurley, notes that the aim is to “withdraw the SOP and return to business as usual as soon as possible” but that it has been judged “necessary to continue with a SOP for the time being”.