In trying to get things back on track after the financial turmoil caused by the coronavirus crisis, there have been many suggestions made by many governments around the globe, and those governments are having to constantly revise and look into what changes they can continue to make in order to keep the economy flowing smoothly, but without sacrificing lives. In attempting this, Scotland’s CDO has revealed a return to work plan for dental practices, which looks set to help those practices get back into the workplace as soon as possible – and hopefully as safely as possible.

Phase One

It is a three-phase plan focused on remobilising the NHS dental services in Scotland, and the first phase is going to be characterised by an increase in the capacity for urgent dental care centres (UDCs). For obvious reasons, these are often going to be the most important for the local communities to have access to, so that’s why they are included in the first phase. All practices will still be unable to take face-to-face patient consultations at this point, but they should be starting to prepare for returning those patients and functions as part of phase two.

All in all, this phase is hopefully going to ensure that acute and essential care can still take place, helping to keep people from experiencing severe or emergency problems which can’t be fixed.

Phase Two

In phase two, there will be yet more of an increase in starting up the NHS dental practices again. In the first part of the second phase, all dental practices will be allowed to open for face-to-face consultations, especially for patients who are in urgent need of care but were not considered to be part of the UDC service. In the second part of this phase, the examinations will be expanded so that anyone going for routine services can begin going back. This is going to look like a much more normal return to service, although it is not yet going to be fully operational as usual. This phase may be in place by the end of July, but of course there are no promises, and it all depends on the virus.

Phase Three

In the third phase, there will be a limited introduction of AGPs to dental practices. Of course, as with every stage of the process, this will depend on what is happening not just in Scotland but on the world stage regarding the coronavirus pandemic, and all of this is going to depend on whether the virus looks likely to return any time soon. Dental practices might also be asked to support other community efforts as part of phase three. This final stage is hopefully going to look very much like a complete return to normal, even if it has to happen somewhat tentatively and slowly. Again, as for the timescale, nothing is certain, but hopefully it will be a couple of months after phase two at the latest, all being well.

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