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You may have heard announcements on the news last night that dentists in England will be allowed to re-open from Mon 8th June. This is great news and what we’ve all been waiting for. We are so pleased to finally be able to help those patients who have been experiencing problems during lockdown and also start to move somewhere closer towards “normal” or the “new normal” as it is now so often described.

So what does this mean for us and our patients?

Firstly we would like to stress that the 8th June has been quoted as the earliest date which we are allowed to open and practices must make their own decisions based on whether they “have the necessary safety measures in place and have managed to obtain the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)”.

We have been preparing and planning for re-opening since the start of lockdown, but this hasn’t been straightforward due to the nature of our business. There is a lot of speculation on new operating procedures for dental practices, however, we are all still waiting for official guidelines to be published.

We would therefore like to reassure patients that we are working hard “behind the scenes” and we shall be opening as soon as we are satisfied that we have the systems and equipment in place to ensure that both our patients and staff are safe. We shall of course keep you informed, but we anticipate that this will be very shortly after the 8th June.

How will patients be prioritised?

When we first re-open, we shall be treating patients in a phased approach. We have been triaging patients during lockdown, and those who have been experiencing problems, shall be seen first. Routine and non- urgent treatments such as examinations and scale and polishes will follow in due course in line with government guidance.

New regulations will mean that we are unable to see the same volume of patients as we did previously so we would ask that you please be patient whilst we all adapt during this time. we can rotate treatment rooms to allow for additional cleaning to be undertaken between patients meaning that we have less ‘down time’.

What should I do now?

If you have an urgent dental problem: please call the practice on 01709 910042 and follow the instructions and we shall return your call as a matter of priority. We are still able to provide advice, prescribe antibiotics (where appropriate) and refer to a local urgent care centre if required, until we re-open.

If you have already contacted us regarding a dental problem during the lockdown: there is no need to do anything. You are already logged on our system and we shall be contacting you in due course to review your situation and to book an appointment as a matter of priority.

Again, if you have routine appointments pending: there is no need to do anything. We shall contact you to let you know whether your appointment will be going ahead as planned or whether we shall need to re-arrange it. The chances are, if you have a routine examination or non urgent appointment in the next few weeks, we shall be contacting you to postpone this. As explained above, this it to allow us time to prepare for re-opening and then to start by prioritising and treating those patients with problems first.

If you have a dental problem which you feel is non-urgent but needs addressing: please contact the practice in due course as we re open and we shall discuss your problem / triage you and arrange an appropriate appointment. As you can imagine, we shall be experiencing a large number of calls initially. For non urgent issues we would be grateful if you could please wait until next week to call us, to enable us to get our systems in place and effectively deal with enquiries. If you are leaving an answer phone message, please leave your name and a brief description of your problem.

We would ask that you remain patient at this time and reassured that appointments will be scheduled based on patient need, vulnerability etc and not just “first come first served”.

What will a dental visit be like?

It became apparent as lockdown progressed, that like other shops, schools and workplaces, dental practices won’t simply re-open and be back to how they were before. Aside from clinical systems and PPE, we shall be introducing new measures to allow social distancing to protect both patients and staff during dental visits.

We will provide more detail soon as to what to expect at your appointments going forward, especially if you are attending in the next couple of months. We appreciate that patients may be anxious when attending the dentist, and that the current Covid-19 situation will for many people, add to this. We therefore plan to put together protocols which help to give reassurance to patients and alleviate anxiety.

We would like to thank all of our patients for bearing with us during this difficult period, we are extremely grateful for all your support. We appreciate that you have been unable to access the service which you deserve, and we have been left frustrated, trying to help but being very limited with what we have been allowed to do. We look forward to being able to re-open and welcome you back soon.

We shall keep you informed over the next couple of weeks as we move towards re-opening.

Kind regards

Philip Hicken (General Manager)