As dental practices throughout the UK make arrangements for returning to practice, MDDUS has been approached by dental hygienist and therapist members seeking advice and guidance about whether or not they are indemnified for particular procedures and whether they can be asked to work without chairside assistance. As a starting point, MDDUS recognises that the current situation is very difficult both for individual members and practice owners.
MDDUS confirms that its indemnity is not conditional on a member following a particular guidance document/SOP and nor is it conditional upon whether or not a member is assisted and supported by a dental nurse. Members must appreciate however, that if departing from the authoritative guidance and GDC standards, the ability to provide a meaningful defence when challenged by a third party, may be limited.
Return to work
As individual healthcare professionals, it is anticipated that hygienists and therapists (along with the team within which they work) will have carefully considered the guidance available as well as the SOP that is in operation in their practice and that they will have satisfied themselves that it will allow them to provide care for patients in an environment that is safe for themselves, team members and their patients. This is an issue of individual professional judgment for each member. All registrants will be aware that GDC Standard 6.2.2 states that: "You should work with another appropriately trained member of the dental team at all times when treating a patient in a dental setting". In addition, most of the guidance regarding a return to dentistry recommends four-handed dentistry and it makes no exception for dental hygienists and therapists.
In the event that hygienists and therapists return to work without any support from a dental nurse, MDDUS would advise that, consistent with the longstanding CQC guidance below, a written risk assessment is carried out which should now include consideration of any additional adaptations that are implemented to mitigate the risk posed by COVID-9. Assistance with regard to the decision-making process in carrying out such a risk assessment can be found here.
For further background reading, it may be helpful for members to review the following publications:
We hope that the above clarifies the current understanding of the Dental Advisory Team. Should you be an MDDUS member and have any queries, then please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Dental Advisory line.
Dental Advisory Team
Updated – 2 July 2020