Patient guidance

This policy has been created based on multiple updated sources from within the dental and medical professions and the government.

It outlines modifications to our normal procedures that we are employing so that emergency care can be provided and we can move towards the practice reopening for routine appointments after the COVID-19 pandemic peak has subsided.

Whilst many of these procedures may be temporary, some of them may become permanent features as they will improve our service to you and ensure patient and staff safety in the future.

I would like to thank all our patients for their kind understanding and tolerance of the present situation and look forward to your cooperation implementing new measures to get us back to full practice.

We will, of course, be keeping a close eye on the guidelines and recommendations for the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and making changes recommended on any new scientific evidence.

We look forward to providing dental care to all our patients in the safest possible environment and look forward to all enjoying and appreciating the new normal.

Timetabled to the New Normal

At present we will continue to provide emergency cover for all our patients. This will be accessed using the usual practice number or (01277) 365928. Messages left will be responded to promptly.

As lockdown is eased we will be seeing other patient groups, prioritised by need, and will be contacting all patients for appropriate triage and assessment to clarify their status.

Initially we will continue to respond and deal with emergency cases using triage assessment and providing treatment required.

Following on when restrictions are lifted further we will prioritise patients as follows :

  • Patients with treatment that was not completed prior to lockdown

  • Patients who have outstanding treatment following emergency care

  • Patients who are high risk for Caries, Gum Disease or Oral Cancer

What is going to change?

One of the most striking changes you will notice is the change in our front desk reception and waiting areas. These will no longer exist. In the light of social distancing guidelines we have implemented a new patient journey for your arrival at the practice.

This will start with communications via telephone or video call along with documents in an electronic format. We will no longer be using paper forms. This will assist us to triage and collect medical and dental history particularly in relation to COVID-19 status.

Bookings will be streamlined to ensure the use of the safest environment for your specific needs. You will therefore see increased triage, by video call and face to face, with diagnostics and treatment being separated. Anna our Therapist will play a pivotal role in this.

You will also see changes in the surgery environment, with increased safety protocols.

New Measures to Reduce the Risk of COVID-19 transmission

Our normal cross infection controls at Whelby against all previously known pathogens are already woven into all clinical activity carried out at the practice.

It should be remembered that a dental practice is already a very clean environment compared to any public areas and there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission occurring or increased rates in dentists or their staff.

Having evaluated guidance put in place in other countries and updated local guidance we feel that the measures outlined in this policy will reduce the risk at Whelby to a minimum.

Please be assured that all our staff will be trained and fully complying with our updated procedures.

We will carry out a pre-attendance assessment using your completed medical history/assessment forms at least two days before your appointment and if necessary a follow-up telephone conversation to assess any relative coronavirus infection risk. Please note this is immensely important and we must receive completed forms before any visits to the practice are made. Our staff will follow up any forms not received and can help you with completion if you have any difficulties.

If we feel that you are at risk of having been infected, even if you are asymptomatic, we will respectfully request for you to delay booking any appointments with us for at least two weeks. Our staff will follow you up to ensure continued care once you have recovered or finished self-isolation.

If we unable to contact you and do not have a response to the forms we may need to cancel your appointment. Please note that this may carry a charge if it’s short notice. Your help to avoid this will be a benefit to everyone.

We recommend that patients in high risk groups for developing complications from coronavirus delay non-essential treatment at this stage of the pandemic. If you are in a high risk group and do require treatment we will be scheduling appointments at the beginning of sessions to maximise safety. To find out whether you are in a high or very high risk group please click the link here:

Initially it may be appropriate for us to do a video consultation to ascertain and triage your individual situation. This can be set up by our admin team with the appropriate dentist or therapist.

Following this it may be required for you to have a face-to-face consultation and diagnostic tests. Where diagnostics are required it will most likely be done by our therapist Anna. This will allow us to book you directly for the most appropriate treatment in the most appropriate environment.

The increased risk, as you may well be aware, is when we undertake aerosol generating procedures (AGP’s). These will therefore be undertaken in a designated surgery with increased safety protocols. It is therefore important we triaged your booking so that your visit can allow successful completion of required treatment.

It is important we all understand the need for the triage stage to ensure a smooth and successful patient journey with minimised risk.

To assist with social distancing, we will be carrying out bookings, cost estimates, treatment information and payments remotely using e-documents and online facilities. We will be booking video calls to answer any questions related to treatment or costs. Please ask the admin team to schedule a call for you if you have any queries. This can be with treatment coordinators, therapist or dentists. Just ask if you need any assistance with this.

Arriving at the Practice

This is where you will see a considerable change to your journey through the practice. Please remember that despite the reduced face-to-face contact and Increased PPE we are still the same caring team you’ve always known.

When you arrive in the car park we ask that you remain in your car until you receive a text or phone call to enter the building. It would be appreciated when leaving your car you wear a face mask to enter the building. Please note the front door is now to the right of the original front door with steps at its threshold. Please let us know in advance if you have any restricted access needs as these can be facilitated.

You will be greeted at the door and asked to enter the new reception area. At this point your temperature will be taken with a note touch thermometer. If your temperature is above 37.8° C you will be asked to return home and self-isolate as per current government guidelines. You will also be asked to use the hand sanitising facilities at reception. If possible, please travel light but there will be box storage for any valuables.

If you have need for the rest room please do your best to leave the facilities as you would expect to find them and wash your hands thoroughly. The rest rooms will be regularly cleaned and disinfected between patients.

The Whelby team have critically appraised every aspect of the practice to clear nonessential items that could possibly harbour infection. Whilst it may appear bare it is for all our safety.

You will notice that there is no reception desk and you will not be led to a waiting room unless for specific needs. This is to decrease risk and facilitate social distancing. It is to protect both you and our staff.

Common areas including door handles and surfaces will be disinfected as a routine in our new cleaning protocols.

Once your appointment is completed you will exit direct to the car park and your car. All future appointments, discussions and any payments will be made remotely by telephone or video call.

Dental Procedures

All dental staff will be using personal protective equipment in line with current recommendations and evidence.

We may look a little different but it’s still us underneath. This is all for our communal safety.

As mentioned before Treatment will be split into AGP’s (aerosol generating procedures) and non-AGP’s. These will be undertaken in different designated surgeries to reduce risk.

Non-AGP’s carry a lower risk of cross contamination and can therefore be done in a slightly less intense environment but still with optimum safety.

AGPs have the increased risk of aerosol suspended in the air producing a theoretical source of infection which we obviously wish to keep to a minimum. Following current guidance and using systems over and above those recommended we will be implementing the following for your safety and the safety of our staff

  • Use of normal high-volume suction and external filtered suction so we can reduce aerosol production by over 90%

  • Use of rubber dam or intra oral isolating techniques where possible reduces bioaerosols a further 30 to 90%

  • Appropriate PPE including FFP2 and FFP3 masks along with disposable gloves, gowns and hats and full-face visors will reduce patient clinician and clinician to patient cross infection

  • Fallow time in between patients of up to half an hour to allow deep cleaning of surgeries between patients and clearance of aerosol contamination including increased filtered ventilation and ULV cold fogging disinfection

  • Air Filtration systems to help reduce residual aerosol particles in surgery areas

We therefore feel that with the strict protocols in place, normal dental procedures can be carried out with minimal risk to patients and clinicians.

In summary

The new protocols post COVID-19 will leave us able to safely continue your dental care confident and mindful of our responsibilities to mitigate the risk of infection as far as practically possible.

This will see more use of technology for remote contact, triage and diagnosis, but less trips to the practice should be convenient for all.

Increased and better use of our wonderful therapist, Anna, for continued routine maintenance, triage and diagnosis allows streamlining of your journey and providing safety for everybody.

Allowing the Dentists and Specialists to run lists to strict protocols, minimising risks.

If you have any questions, please contact us. We will be getting back to care as normal (new normal) and we will be in touch very soon.