29 May Preparing To Reopen
At last I can give some more positive news. The practice is aiming for a reopening on Monday 8th June!
We had already planned this date before the BBC decided to tell the entire population BEFORE dentists themselves had been told. Many private practices had already started making the plans to reopen then as the legal situation about the enforced closure of private practices had finally been clarified by the Care Quality Commission. Because of that, we had been planning for at least last month to start the ordering of the types of PPE we would need. We have been able to source ALL the types of PPE that are likely to be recommended, rather than waiting until next week to find out the final list and then not be able to get any because all the other practices in the UK would be ordering them. It will mean that in all probability, many practices will still unfortunately have to remain closed due to the PPE shortages.
However, just because we are now opening on the 8th June does not mean we can immediately return to an absolutely normal service at the practice. Due to the restrictions that will still remain in place, we are only able to run a skeleton team initially because of the need to ensure social distancing of patients and team members as much as possible. There are also likely to be recommendations about the number of patients we can see for what are termed ‘Aerosol Procedures’ (like preparing teeth for fillings getting access to the nerve for emergency pain relief, or even using the water/air spray to dry a tooth). I want to take this opportunity now to reassure all our patients that Aerosols are not necessarily the huge problem that the press are making of it, but are just part of the bigger picture we now have to consider when we reopen, at least for a period of time over the next weeks and months. We will be taking all the precautions needed to ensure your safety as well as ours, and it is because of this initial change that we will not be able to see anywhere near the number of patients per day initially.
This is why we have still had to cancel the routine treatments that were booked in June. As we have been closed for almost 10 weeks now, we have a number of patients who require emergency treatment as a priority before we can reopen our books to more normal treatment just yet. We are hoping that as the R number falls further, the restrictions placed on us will be lifted still further, and that it will not be too long before we are back to a fairly normal service.
So, in the first 2 weeks, we will prioritising patient with outstanding toothache, and urgent problems. We will then gradually be bringing more of our dentists back in, as recommendations allow, to start finishing outstanding treatments, before then reintroducing the more routine dental health check assessments. It is likely that one of the last things that we will be able to reintroduce is hygiene treatments with the Ultrasonic instruments, but we shall be providing these by hand until then. Because we are aware that some of you will have also missed appointments that have already been paid for by your continued monthly membership, we will be offering complimentary ‘catch up’ hygiene appointments for those patients who need them and have been affected by the cancellation of their appointments. We will also be doing our utmost to make sure you still get the appointments you are entitled to and need. In order to do this it is likely that we will be increasing the surgery opening hours once we are able to in order to give you a larger choice of appointment times to see us.
So, despite what the Government and the BBC have said, I’m afraid it is still a case of having to bear with us for a little longer, but normality is now in sight, and I hope to be welcoming you all back very shortly now. When we get back to work on the 8th it will initially be with a skeleton team of 1 dentist, 1 nurse and 1 receptionist in order to deal with the emergencies. I’d like to politely ask therefore that you don’t ring the practice to book routine appointments over the next 2 weeks (from the 1st June) as we will not be able to make them, and those of us that are back at work will have to concentrate on the emergencies that area booked in. I will be introducing more team members as the lockdown rules further lift and allow us to open more of our surgeries.
I would also like to take this opportunity of behalf of my team to thank all our patients for their patience in this difficult time, and I personally will never forget those messages of support we have received from you. I would also like to give my personal thanks to my team for all the support they have given me throughout this, and especially to Emily and Vicki who have remained at work with me all through this and put up with the random emails, calls, messages and texts at all hours of the day and night. It also goes without saying that the support I have had from my family Claire and No