REVISED infection prevention control (IPC) requirements for dental settings have been published by the UK Government and this has prompted NHS England to update the standard operating procedure (SOP) for practices.
NHS England states that the main changes in the update include the removal of the three distinct Covid-19 care pathways (high, medium and low) and the introduction of a screening tool to place patients on either a "non-respiratory or a respiratory pathway".
Patients on the non-respiratory pathway are subject to standard infection control precautions (SICPs), but for patients on the respiratory pathway, transmission-based precautions (TBPs) apply in addition to SICPs. This means for patients on the respiratory pathway undergoing aerosol generating procedures (AGPs), post-AGP downtime applies.
Many parts of the guidance have not changed, including all patients being screened for Covid-19, universal masking/face coverings and more.
NHS England stipulates that all practices must follow the IPC guidance in full and it is hoped the new measures will create greater opportunity to address the backlog of care and meet the demand for urgent dental care.
In a letter to dental professionals Chief Dental Officer England Sara Hurley, says: "Our aim is to withdraw the SOP and return to business as usual as soon as possible. However, we have judged it necessary to continue with a SOP for the time being."
She adds: "Contractual requirements for the next financial quarter (January - March 2022) are being put together and we will inform you of them as soon as possible."