An update to Dental providers from Dr Rosie Benneyworth and John Milne

care quality commission

 The independent regulator of health

 and social care in England

Dear colleagues, 


We want to start by thanking dental services for the work you have done during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to support the national response, and we are confident that the dental profession is actively seeking to provide care in a way that is safe for patients and dental staff. CQC is committed to supporting practices through this difficult time. 


The pandemic has presented a major health crisis that required all health and care bodies, including CQC, to work in very different ways. During the early stages of the pandemic we moved quickly to adapt how we regulate and work within the health and social care system. This included pausing our programme of routine inspections, redeploying our staff to the frontline of care services, and supporting the national testing effort. 


However, our core purpose and regulatory role has not changed, and we continue to ensure that health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, and high-quality care. 


We recognise that a return to more face-to-face contact with patients may bring difficulties and anxieties for dental services, including concerns around access to PPE and fit testing for FFP masks. At the same time, there is a large number of patients with dental problems that some practices will have difficulty in addressing.  


To help us understand the specific stresses and challenges that providers are facing, and to understand where people may be at the greatest risk of unsafe carewe have introduced a new tool, the emergency support framework (ESF). This supports consistent conversations between inspectors and providers that explore the stresses and challenges both for care providers and for the wider care system. 


We are already using the ESF in many of the sectors we regulate, and we plan to start implementing it with dental services from 15 June. You can find out more about the ESF, including how we will hold these conversations, on our website and in recent blogs from Rosie Benneyworth. 


Because we want this approach to be proportionate and not add unnecessary burden on providers, we won’t be conducting ESF conversations with every service, but instead will assess the need for these based on indicators of risk. 


If we identify common themes through ESF conversations where practices are finding things difficult, we will raise those with the Department of Health and Social Care or NHS England at a national level. If there are training issues, we will raise them with Health Education England. 


Our aim through the emergency support framework is to work alongside the profession in these changing times. We will actively seek the views of the whole profession through our dental reference group and individual professional organisations, as both practice and regulation seek to evolve in a positive way for the future. 


Thank you again for all the work you are doing and keep safe.  


Dr Rosie Benneyworth, 

Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care. 


John Milne, 

Senior National Dental Advisor.