UK inbound and outbound dental travel unlikely for months

On 25 March, NHS England wrote to NHS dental practices setting out immediate changes to services due to the overriding need to limit transmission of COVID-19. These included:

  • Deferring routine, non-urgent dental care including orthodontics
  • Establishing remote urgent care services, providing telephone triage
  • Setting up networks of urgent dental care sites

From 8 June dental practices can re-open but the required approach for re-opening practices is to consider every patient as a potential COVID-19 carrier.

The advice from Public Health England (in line with the World Health Organisation) on PPE applies in great detail and must be followed to the letter. It seems that mixed practices of NHS and private patients must follow the rules too.

The position of private practices that do not treat NHS patients is that they can open but private practices are free to determine how they provide care to patients.

New guidance for all types of practice includes:

  • Guidance from NHS England and the Office of the Chief Dental Officer, including a new Standard Operating Procedure
  • Implications of COVID-19 for the safe management of general dental practice: a practical guide from the Faculty of General Dental Practice
  • The British Dental Association COVID-19 special guidance on returning to routine care

Restrictions are being lifted at a different pace across the country. Even the British Dental Association is still seeking clarity on the position in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

With the UK planning to impose a 14-day quarantine on all incoming and returning travellers, there will be no inbound or outbound dental tourism for months.