Bernard's Festive Blog
“JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO OUT!”
As we approach the end of the second year of this Pandemic and having all been double jabbed, boosted and repeatedly Lateral Flow tested we were starting to relax thinking the worst was over. Rules had been eased for everyone (except Healthcare!) Pubs and Nightclubs had reopened the general public ignored all the rules, went about their business unprotected and all was looking good. We of course were still labouring on with full PPE under instruction from the CDO! Christmas preparation was well underway when out of the blue from South Africa there came the Christmas present we did not expect in the form of a new variant known to its friends as the Omicron Variant (catchy name I thought!)
This of course arrived just after the new SOP from OCDO and could not have been stage managed better to maximise the confusion and uncertainty which has continually hung over us during the last two years. The BDA are now working for us to have some clarity as to how we proceed. As usual the scientific picture is vague due to the uncertainties and the unknowns. Currently we have a small number of cases identified and we need to understand how contagious the Omicron Variant is before a more definite picture can be put together. We also need to understand how seriously the symptoms of an Omicron infection will manifest themselves. As has been the situation from the start of this we are dealing with the unknown and that can never be easy. From the Comms perspective at the LASC LDC Exec we will keep everyone up to date with developments as we get the information.
On the subject of vaccines we have the current situation looming whereby Covid Vaccinations will become mandatory for Healthcare workers by 1st April next year. This will inevitably cause problems for Dental Practices with staff who are not fully vaccinated. We have this as a priority agenda item in our meetings with the Area Team. Together we are working towards managing the situation and collation of the number of staff in this position is the starting point. NHSE are intending to send out a questionnaire so please do respond so we can get the full picture. As always we will keep everyone updated through the website vaccination information page and the mailing list, but in the meantime if you need support do not hesitate to contact us;
In the middle of all this other stuff going on we are part of the process to integrate Primary Care Health Services as part of the National Programme. There is a load of info around but we will feed you the summaries as they emerge. Locally across LASC we are getting lined up to develop the necessary connections with our colleagues from Medicine, Pharmacy and Optometry as part of the Primary Care Networks. This has been in place for some time in Fleetwood PCN and is working very well. Full support will be forthcoming from NHSE as we move forward and as the LDC Exec we are closely in touch with developments and as always will keep you updated.
As we all know the contractual debate has been ongoing for some time and although locally NHSE and ourselves are all on the same page it does not seem to be the same at the Centre with the BDA getting resistance. At the recent LDC Officials Day however the BDA are now reporting that there may be room for negotiation which is good news. Basically, there needs to be some serious thought given to the contractual arrangements going forward if we are to be able to participate in the developing NHS. With any new contractual arrangement it is essential that we create a better working environment in dentistry in order to support the recruitment and retention of the dental team.
Recruitment and Retention Crisis
Currently we are a profession in crisis due to two years of Covid confusion and badly timed information from OCDO plus the challenging day to day situation of working in claustrophobic PPE. Add to this the pressures encountered due to contractual uncertainty and it is no surprise we have had a steady exodus from the profession. From the advertising we put out on the website we have seen there is a definite rise in the number of adverts for private associates or associates willing to build a private book. This picture is replicated nationwide and sends out the message that there is a fundamental feeling of being let down by the NHS. In terms of influencing this situation and getting the profession back on track thought needs to be given to the Health and Wellbeing status of the dental teams in order to make them feel valued and make the job more interesting and rewarding than it is at present.
BA thoughts: having been in the profession quite a while now I have never known anything like we have gone through over the past 2 years. What I have seen during that period is how motivated, resilient and resourceful our Dental Teams have been – it has been outstanding. Turning the clock back to the early days when nobody knew what the hell was going on we mobilised the LASC Dental Teams and set up the UDC System which was fantastically supported by a huge number of practices and services. These were dark days but the profession rose to the occasion and over the subsequent months we responded again and again to numerous SOPs and instructions without question and we delivered an exceptional service to our patients.
My gripe here is that although all this happened we received no acknowledgement either from the Centre or from our Politicians. To make matters worse we are now in a limbo situation where the future remains uncertain with no firm commitment to support the profession in getting back to normality with a robust properly funded flexible contract which would enable all the future plans for an integrated NHS to happen and support the recruitment and retention of the dental team. As I see it a motivated determined and resilient profession like ours will adapt to whatever circumstances prevail and if not attractive this could push GDS dentistry into the Private Sector. Come on Boris and co. it is up to you!
Practitioner Support Update
We have delivered successful Practitioner Support including our DPASS model for a number of years now and our support will continue. What we have needed to establish to match with changes in the NHS Professional Standards re-structure is to have a DPASS scheme to run across Cheshire Merseyside, Greater Manchester and of course Lancashire and South Cumbria. After many meetings our LASC DPASS model has been now adopted by CM and GM and we are rolling it out as the NW scheme. Referrals into the system come in to one central point and are then directed to the practitioners local DPASS scheme. We can therefore provide the one point of contact but retain the local sensitivity.
Please remember we are here for you all 24/7/365 so don’t forget if you need support of any kind don’t hesitate to contact us;
One more thing: I would urge you all to switch off over the Christmas Break and put all this to one side until the New Year which hopefully will bring better news...
one further thing: on behalf of LASC LDC Exec I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
Have a good one – see you in 2022!
Secretary LASC LDC Executive
Practitioner Support Lead