New research, published by the General Dental Council (GDC) – the UK’s regulator of dental professionals, reveals that while most people (61%) feel just as confident about visiting the dentist as they did before the pandemic, almost a third (32%) feel less safe, with worries about Covid safety being cited.
The research, which forms part of a wider programme of work to understand the impact of Covid-19 on dentistry and support the recovery of oral health services, also shows the potential that health inequalities are being created and exacerbated, as people from ethnic minority backgrounds and those with physical or mental health conditions were more likely to have concerns about visiting dental practices in future.
In addition, the report highlights that measures already being taken by dental practices, such as providing clear information in advance of appointments about the COVID-19 control measures that are in place, including staff wearing PPE and extra cleaning before and after appointments, have a real impact on patient confidence.
Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director of Strategy at the GDC, said: “The dental profession has worked tirelessly to support patients through the extraordinary difficulties resulting from this crisis. The challenge for all of us now is to ensure that patients feel confident in being able to access the dental treatment they need, and it’s important that they continue to hear clear messages that it is safe to return. This research provides rich insights into the factors which influence behaviour and expectations.”
To view the full report and read about the emerging picture from the wider programme of work, visit gdc-uk.org/impactsofcovid19.
In other news, the GDC has updated its Brexit-related information for dental professionals, following updated guidance being received by all the health and care regulators from the Department of Health and Social Care. Following its formal exit from the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, the UK entered a transition period which will come to an end at 11pm on 31 December 2020.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has published guidance on how medical devices will be regulated in the UK from 1 January 2021.
The key requirements for medical devices placed on the market in Great Britain from 1 January 2021 are:
- CE marking will continue to be used and recognised until 30 June 2023
- Certificates issued by European Economic Area (EEA)-based Notified Bodies will continue to be valid for the Great Britain market until 30 June 2023
- A new route to market and product marking will be available for manufacturers wishing to place a device on the Great Britain market from 1 January 2021
- If you are a manufacturer based outside the UK and wish to place a device on the UK market, you will need to establish a UK Responsible Person who will take responsibility for the product in the UK.
- From 1 January 2021, all medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDs) placed on the UK market will need to be registered with the MHRA. There will be a grace period for registering:
- 4 months for Class IIIs and Class IIb implantables, and all active implantable medical devices
- 8 months for other Class IIb and all Class IIa devices
- 12 months for Class I devices
The guidance also reveals that the new UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) mark will be used for medical device and will be able to be applied from 1 January 2021. From 1 July 2023, to place a device on the Great Britain market, you will need to meet the requirements for placing a UKCA mark on your device. The UKCA mark will not be recognised in the EU, EEA or Northern Ireland markets. If you already have a valid CE mark on your device, you will not be required to re-label the device with a UKCA mark until 1 July 2023 for placement on the Great Britain market.
UKCA marks will be issued by new UK Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), which will be designated by MHRA. UK NBs with MDD designations will not have to undergo a new designation process.
The Department of Health and Social Care will be holding a webinar to discuss the guidance on Thursday 3rd September at 9:30am. The registration link can be found below.
Read the guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/regulating-medical-devices-from-1-january-2021
Register for the DHSC webinar here: https://www.workcast.com/register?cpak=3123752941732861
The Association of Dental Groups has launched a national campaign calling on ministers to take urgent action to deal with the growing crisis in access to dentistry.
Ten weeks after dental practices started to re-open, the ADG is exploring the impact that lockdown has had on the national’s oral health. The centrepiece of the campaign will be new analysis showing how different parts of the country have been affected by Covid-19 restrictions.
The analysis will be shared with MPs and policy makers to ensure they are aware of how Covid-19 has further exacerbated existing problems with access to dentistry in constituencies across the UK.
It will include several recommendations for ministers to take forward to deal with the crisis in access to dentistry, with the focus on securing an increase in recruitment and retention of dentists.
The new campaign has been launched with a comment article here by Neil Carmichael, chair of the ADG.
Neil Carmichael says: “Few dentists are looking forward to seeing the full impact that lockdown has had on the nation’s teeth. But while dentists are already sounding alarm about where lockdown has left us, this is just the latest part of a bigger crisis we are seeing in UK dentistry. The reality is that Covid has made the situation worse and we will shortly be bringing forward new analysis that sets out just how bad it has become. At this stage, all of the signs point to a worrying picture with lockdown having led to less patients being seen and some of the most vulnerable groups being hit hardest.
“Our goals are attracting and training people here in the UK to become dentists and reforming the registration process for overseas dentists to work for NHS dentistry which has been exacerbated by lockdown and Brexit.”