Bernard's Blog: Route to Recovery - part 2

Hi All,

Well here we are a week into the Route to Recovery following the complete disruption caused by Covid 19. Nobody could have seen this coming and hence we were not ready for it.

I must say that across LASC the profession reacted in the most fantastic way possible and responded to the “Call to Action”  from NHSE to establish the UDC System and provide urgent care for those patients in need.

There emerged from this some real heroes who simply “got on with it” and joined the UDC ranks in response to the requirements of the OCDO – and what a tremendous job they did! From the LDC Exec perspective we tried to give the maximum support we could and feed out updates and advice on a regular basis to bring some sanity to the “Covid Chaos” – and will continue to do so.

Nick Barkworth on behalf of NHSE would like to pass on his heartfelt thanks for the efforts of LASC dentists which resulted in the stabilisation of the LASC position. Nick is extremely proud of the way we all stepped up to the plate. 

So what now?

We are on the Route to Recovery and I want us all to stay positive in the confidence that if anyone can bring dentistry back to normal it is us. Yes, we might get a second wave (but we might not). Should that happen then as we have not stood down the UDC System we can increase the capacity again if required.


I have had confirmed what I always thought about dentists’ mentality and approach to life. In our every day job we solve problems. In our practices on an ongoing basis we manage situations and continue to deliver services to our patients often against all odds; a real ‘can-do’ attitude. A profession that can deliver quality patient care in an environment of extreme regulation, close monitoring and financial challenge is one on its own – unfortunately this is not always recognised. Nobody clapped us on a Thursday night, did they? Matt Hancock didn’t say what a great job we have done - all we got was long periods of silence punctuated by a succession of letters then SOPs. We have long been accustomed to a lack of appreciation – but then what you never had you never miss!

This positive approach to life and the ability to manage situations in the face of adversity makes us strong characters; who will succeed against all odds - we are doing just that at the moment.

When I saw the raft of problems rocking up at our doors over the last few weeks it was daunting – but what happened?

Answer – the Dental Profession responded!

Firstly, we had a number of leaders emerge as the UDC Co-ordinators heading up the UDC System and listing them from North to South they are;

North Lancs & South Cumbria - Ian Wild / Anna Allen / Wendy Thompson

Fylde Coast - Alex Johnson / Matthew Holyoak

East Lancs -Shaz Tahir / Shane Morgan

Preston - Ash Rafiq

Chorley/Leyland - Assim Ghaffoor

West Lancs - Edward Nussey

These guys have led the task of getting the UDCs up and running and made themselves available to advise new practices coming on board. The co-ordinators are still in place and will be picking up the baton to lead the Road to Recovery. As with the UDC System the Local Dental Network will head up the programme.

The LDC Exec put their shoulders to the wheel from the start.

The” PPE Guys”

Andy Harvey / Alex Johnson / Stuart Johnson

As we all know the lack of PPE availability remains a thorn in the side of the profession. Andy worked tirelessly to source the kit we needed to get the UDCs up and running – an exceptional effort and well-done Andy.

Andy was supported by the Johnson Brothers (who are not brothers incidentally) who were trained in fit testing and supported the UDC practices as we moved forwards.

Last but certainly not least we had the formidable Comms Team, Stuart Johnson and Zoe Mack who kept the whole show together through the darkest hours – fabulous job and well done.

So is it all over now?

Well unfortunately not!  

We are now on the Road to Recovery and we are gaining traction. All of the above needs to continue and we need to move together as a profession to get to where we need to go.

At a local level, the Exec, LDN, PHE and NHSE continue to work together to support the UDCs, and to push for support for practices with issues particularly around PPE supply and fit testing – although as GDPs themselves they will necessarily turn their attention to their own patients.  


Reflection is a big part of everything we do nowadays, and I think we should all take a few moments to reflect on ourselves; because coping with what has been thrown at us in a rapid-fire fashion over the last few weeks will undoubtedly take its toll on us.

I want you all to take a deep breath and consider yourself for once

Some people will no doubt have ended up in a bad place during this crisis and if that is you then please do not just brush it under the carpet. There are a number of resources out there to provide support. Our practitioner welfare page provides contact details for a range of organisations including, Confidental, and BDA lifeline, and there are also links to upcoming wellbeing webinars, training and resources to support mental health.

If all you feel you need is some peer support, someone to listen or just someone to have a moan at then the LDCs are there to support you... Contact can be made directly with an LDC member you happen to know locally or if you wish you can contact us through the website on;

Please do remember that reacting to adverse circumstances and needing support is not a weakness – we have all been there. Everyone has a breaking point so let’s make sure we don’t get there – ASK FOR HELP AND SUPPORT.

The above thoughts are not just retrospective because we are not through this mess yet - so we need to look forwards as well. If you need any advice about anything as we open up our practices just drop us an email – all enquiries will be treated in the utmost confidence.

Please do also consider your colleagues in practice – they may have personal fears and concerns about working in this environment. We did find this was the case with some of the UDC Pioneer Practices, but these fears were allayed by good teamwork, discussions, reassurance and “doing it for real”.

Our UDC co-ordinators are still there and would be more than happy to offer help and advice around any of your potential issues – remember whatever it is that is troubling you they will have encountered it. If you wish to take up this offer then you can either contact one of them as listed above or email us at;

What we did find is that once practices saw colleagues in other practices providing services and managing situations, confidence began to grow, and it becomes more the “norm”.

Finance: currently contracts will continue to be paid at full value and the abatement issue is still in debate at BDA/NHSE level. I am sure the BDA will get a sensible approach from NHSE and we will then have some financial certainty in place

What does NHSE need from us?

As we have mentioned a number of times it is essential that we keep the current UDC System in place to both deliver the current patient care, and also have the safety net in place should we get a second wave or local cluster.  Clinics which previously provided emergency care to patients without a dentist are now treating Covid+ patients or Shielded and Vulnerable patients.

What is needed from practices opening up is to commit to seeing a couple of patients per day on referral from the Dental Helpline to backfill this care provision; to provide AAA plus any one-off follow up treatment for a few more weeks whilst things settle down. By doing this we can spread the load and assist in maintaining the provision of Urgent Dental Care for all patients.

Onwards and Upwards!

Stay Safe!


Bernard Alston