Bernard's Autumn Blog

Hi All,

So when did the penny drop for you that Covid 19 was with us? For Mrs A and myself it was when we were on holiday in a cottage we had rented in Glenridding. Our booking was the week beginning 21st March! We have stayed in this cottage before and were looking forward to a great weeks walking in the fells with our little Staffie. Helvellyn is on the doorstep and the scenery is spectacular. The weather (for a change) was good so all was well. We had contacted the cottage rental company prior to setting off from home and they had reassured us it was OK to travel. Glenridding was fairly quiet but it was March so that was not too unusual. We enjoyed two days walking and had just sat down on the Monday evening for a pre-dinner glass of wine whilst our meal was cooking. We turned on the TV and watched Boris announce there was to be a National Lockdown from the following day! We could have easily have stayed there because we are totally self- sufficient and avoid people anyway. However we got an email from the cottage rental company at 10.00 on the Tuesday morning to say we had to leave by 12.00 - brilliant! We were allowed to roll over the booking to later in the year so that’s aspect was OK but if we had gone the previous week we would have been fine!

On the Wed started the mammoth task of responding to the instructions and series of SOPs we had from the CDO by supporting the profession to implement the Urgent Dental Care System.

As the LDC Executive we worked closely with NHSE from the beginning to support practitioners getting up and running again and then moving towards Recovery. The Comms flowed on the LDC e-group and Website which enabled us to keep people up to speed with new developments and hopefully simplify some of the information. Many thanks are due to Stuart and Zoë for all the hard work over the past 5 months.

We are obviously not over it yet and there is the threat of a second spike or local lockdown which could mean a return to the UDC System to meet the local need - fingers crossed this doesn’t happen.

Over the period of the Pandemic the website team have been inundated by enquiries around a number of issues. Whilst we could resolve most things the issues raised around payments to associates were the most challenging. What we did was to collate all the issues into a bullet point format and submitted them to NHSE both locally and across the North West. You can see a summary of the questions we asked here. We also submitted our LASC summary to the BDA who are pursuing the national picture with the Centre. The main area for concern was around those practices that were not carrying out the instructions of the CDO which were to carry on paying associates in the normal way.

The difficulty with policing this is that there are currently no powers within the remit of the Local Area Teams or the LDCs to address the problem. We need to say at this point in time that NOBODY thinks this behaviour is appropriate and it does need to be rectified - it is just finding the means of doing this.

The main stumbling block with respect to taking action is that it is only the two parties involved in the Provider/Performer contractual agreement that can have any influence. Our initial advice is if you find yourself in such a position then legal advice is essential ASAP. Keep the LDC informed of your predicament so we can document it and update NHSE but do get legal support - this could be the BDA or your own solicitor.

Please bear with us and we will keep you updated as to progress. It just adds to the stress of working through this Covid situation as inappropriate financial actions will inevitably have a further impact on people’s lives.

So please do keep us updated as to any developments and keep the information coming in

During these unprecedented times we are in a position where inevitably our patients may on occasions be seen by another dentist. The onus is on all members of the dental team to flag any concerns around the treatment carried out by a fellow clinician should patient safety be potentially put at risk. Do please be careful what you say to the patient in such circumstances to ensure all aspects of the situation can be established before any further action is taken.

Just one more thing

Winding forward to July we were able to legitimately get away up to the Lakes again and stayed in a cottage near Hawkshead. We were quite remote, which we like, but one day had to go into Hawkshead to get a couple of things. We went to the local Co-op where Mrs A volunteered to go in. There was a member of staff at the door policing entry and ensuring people were two metres apart in the queue. This seems to work until the member of staff called out to her colleagues in the shop and said “I am going for my lunch now but everyone in the queue knows to wait until people come out of the shop. This was fine until other people started to arrive who were not party to the instructions so they just rocked up and went straight into the shop! Mrs A who is extremely infection control focussed was horrified by this especially when a woman who arrived with a mask on (they weren’t compulsory then) got her shopping and paid for it. Having taken her change from the person at the till, who was not wearing gloves, took off her mask and rubbed her face!

Other Covid spreading considerations in the shop were the presence of what we call “open toe bread” which are those baguettes which are not fully wrapped and poke out of the end of the wrapping. These were situated thoughtfully by the Co-op staff on shelves just above waist height so everyone passing rubbed against the uncovered bread with their clothing.

Mrs A said she felt like it was so infectious in there she should immediately self- isolate as per the guidelines! No marks for the Hawkshead Co-op around implementation of the guidance!

And another thing

I did have a laugh recently when I heard teachers were whinging that they were all set to welcome kids back into school having implemented the precautions in what they thought were the guidelines. Out of the blue some new guidance was issued and they were in uproar about it. My reaction was – join the club!

That’s all for now

Stay safe and keep in touch


Bernard Alston

Sec Lancashire and South Cumbria LDC Executive