We would like to thank our dental providers and their teams who have been working extremely hard to provide access to dental services to patients, in such difficult circumstances.
As you are aware the NHS faces increasing pressure, particularly over extended bank holiday periods, and that whilst demand for routine dental care over the Christmas and New Year period is generally low, we need to ensure there is sufficient reliable access for patients who require urgent care. This is particularly important at a time when overall treatment capacity is reduced due the infection control measures required to ensure dental treatment can be provided safely for patients and staff. We are therefore reminding all practices that they are to remain open during their contracted opening times during the Christmas and New Year period and continue to provide services in line with the national Standard Operating Procedure, ie continue to provide remote triage for all patients who contact the practice, not just those on your list, and prioritise access to appointments for those who require urgent care.
However, we appreciate that some practices may wish to close early or close on some days during this period and in line with previous years it is acceptable where there are adequate arrangements in place to ensure patients who contact your practice, not just your regular list of patients, can access urgent care. Where you wish to close you should ensure that you have a buddy practice(s) and that they will increase their capacity for urgent care in order to carry out remote assessment and offer treatment for patients that have come to them via your practice’s answer phone, website and notice on door, as well as those that have rung the buddy practice direct. Alternatively, it is acceptable for you or one of your performers to carry out remote triage and AAA with a buddy arrangement in place to see a patient face to face should this be required; if such an arrangement is put in place this must be in real time by giving a mobile number for patients to ring, rather than the picking up messages from their answer phone.
Please see the list below for days over the Christmas period, for ease the Bank Holiday days are highlighted in red and you are not required to be open on these days unless contracted to do so.
Friday 24th December 2021 (Christmas Eve) – normal working day
Saturday 25th December 2021 (Christmas Day) – protected Bank Holiday
Sunday 26th December 2021 (Boxing Day) – normal day
Monday 27th December 2021 – Bank Holiday (substitute day for Christmas Day)
Tuesday 28th December 2021 – Bank Holiday (substitute day for Boxing Day)
Wednesday 29th December 2021 – normal working day
Thursday 30th December 2021 – normal working day
Friday 31st December 2021 – normal working day
Saturday 1st January 2022 (New Year’s Day) – normal working day (not a Bank Holiday as a substitute Bank Holiday is in place on Monday 3rd January 2022 for this day, so if practices are contracted to open on a Saturday then you will be required to ensure urgent care can be provided as outlined above)
Sunday 2nd January 2022 – normal day
Monday 3rd January 2022 – Bank Holiday (substitute day for New Year’s Day)
The GOV.UK website confirms if a Bank Holiday is on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a Bank Holiday, normally the following Monday. This means that January 1st 2022 is not a Bank Holiday. However, Christmas Day is a protected Bank Holiday and practices would not, therefore, be expected to be open or responsible for providing urgent care on this day.
Please be aware that it is not acceptable to refer patients needing face to face appointments either to an out of hours service or 111. Out of hours services should be used by patients only where their urgent dental need starts outside of normal practice opening hours.
Please follow this link https://forms.office.com/r/
NHS England and NHS Improvement takes Christmas cover very seriously as it is of the utmost importance that emergency departments are not inappropriately overwhelmed by patients needing urgent dental care when this should be provided by dental practices in line with the national SOP requiring prioritisation of all patients, including those new to a practice. This is very important again this year due to the ongoing pandemic together with the usual winter pressures that the NHS is already experiencing. We require the survey to be completed by start of Monday 6 December 2021. Completion of the survey is a contractual requirement as this being requested under clauses 211 and 212 of your General Dental Services contract or Personal Dental Services agreement.
Guidance how to complete the survey:
- You will need to complete and submit the survey for each contract number you hold, even if the opening hours are identical across all contracts or the contracts operate from the same site. This does not apply to Intermediate Oral Surgery, Sedation, Restorative or Prisons contracts for which it is not necessary to fill in the survey.
- Where there is more than one contract for your practice or location, it will not be possible to track all responses unless you fill in the survey for each contract number.
- Please enter the number without using any / sign.
- If you enter a buddy arrangement, the buddy practice(s) must hold an NHS contract.
- Practices cannot signpost patients to the 111 system within their contracted working hours over the Christmas and New Year period. It is not permitted to use any third party arrangements which would still involve patients calling 111 in the first instance.
- It is acceptable to give a dedicated mobile phone number on your practice answer phone, website and poster to enable patients to access urgent and emergency care during your normal hours. The phone should be answered by a dentist who can undertake AAA as a minimum, going into the practice to see any that require face to face care or passing their details to a buddy practice who would call the patient back with an appointment for face to face care.
- A tick and ‘thanks!’ will appear once you have successfully submitted your return.