27 Mar 2020  •  Blog, Covid-19, Dental Landscape  •  5min read By  • Simon Thackeray

A day in the life of a dentist during COVID-19 – Day 2

After appearing to fail to achieve anything at all yesterday, today started with the intentions of working on the to-do list more religiously than previously.

It started off with making sure all the remote working at the practice was enabled, with phone diverts, telephone triaging and issuing prescription proformas to the associates who were going to be assisting with the next stage of our response to the crisis. Also, a contact at the local pharmacy was set up ready to receive any emailed prescriptions.

My skeleton team have been amazing this week, but I’m feeling really guilty that I haven’t had time to chat to the ones who are currently on furlough. I’ve decided we’ll have a virtual meeting sometime, probably using Zoom (I seem to have spent most of the last week on Zoom).

I fielded a few calls from worried friends and colleagues (why are they ringing me, it’s not like I know what to do any more than anyone else!). The Chief Dental Officer’s letter of yesterday has created more confusion and dilemmas than it has solved by the looks of it.

The practices with 50/50 mixed NHS/private seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, and there is no clarity or detail for anyone out there. You could be forgiven for thinking the DOH and the CDO have used the Covid-19 outbreak as a way to manipulate dentistry completely to their own ends. But surely that would be too cynical to think?

Next was a webinar with Chris Barrow, which ended up a repetition of the ‘don’t know’ mantra for the above reasons. I’m beginning to realise just how many different business models are out there in UK dentistry, so it’s not surprising there are so many unanswered questions. Then when you finally get an answer to something, it generates a whole load of other questions without answer ad infinitum. I think it might actually take longer to answer the questions than the 12 weeks the Government has been talking about getting over the ‘hump’ of the curve.

I’m heartened at the BDA’s response to the CDO’s letter, as they have raised many of these questions. I know the BDA sometimes gets a lot of criticism, and to be fair, I have been one of the harshest. But I do think they have to be applauded for the work they are doing at the moment, as there is no way we could even begin to get any traction as individuals, and whilst I have never seen the profession so united as the last week, it would be a long time before a group could get the access the BDA has to the Government (if indeed another group ever could).

Time to walk a couple of the dogs. One bit of normality has been the constancy of our four dogs who seem to be revelling in all the extra attention of three humans being present all day. That’s not stopped their usual antics, with the Beagle today deciding to ‘Sing the Song of His People’ at full volume, whilst ritually destroying his fourth mattress since Christmas. I couldn’t help noticing just how fresh the air was whilst walking them, and the sound of traffic almost absent. At that moment, for perhaps the first time in at least a week, I actually think my head was empty of thoughts. Until of course the Beagle found a mouse to sniff out and ended up tangling his lead round a hawthorn!

I took a quick call from the always inspirational Colin Campbell prior us both appearing on the Chris Barrow Webcast. It’s always good talking to Colin, because his approach to the ethics of the business of dentistry is something I always try to emulate. We had a brief chat, and no doubt will talk again before all this Covid-19 stuff is over.

Like many practice owners and associates alike, I’d been waiting for the Chancellor’s announcement today. I’d got my own thoughts about what would happen, and had shared them only with a couple of people. Unfortunately, he confirmed what I thought would be the case, and that dentists would slip through. It’s hard at times like this to feel that we as an industry are not actually being singled out in some way, but as I’ve said earlier that would just be too cynical.

Then the second instalment of the Chris Barrow Covid-19 panel webinar went live at 7.00 pm. As usual there’s me wondering how the hell I’m doing this (with the usual impostor syndrome kicking in), and a break for the nationwide support the NHS clap, marked from the local estate with a barrage of fireworks.

Finally, writing this and talking to a close friend whose employer today completed the moving of 800 employees out of their office and onto home working. We’re having a virtual pub crawl tomorrow using Zoom to celebrate his 50th Birthday. I suspect, however, that the hangover the following day will be completely real!

*Please note the views expressed are Simon’s own.

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