19 million NHS dentist appointments ‘missed’ due to coronavirus guidelines

Around 19 million NHS dental appointments have been missed due to coronavirus guidelines restricting services, dentists have warned.

In a letter to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, the British Dental Association (BDA) has called on the Government to invest in practices to help them increase their capacity and provide vital care.

Nearly three quarters of practices are operating at half their pre-pandemic capacity, according to a survey carried out by the BDA, with nearly two thirds (63 per cent) reporting that they are focusing on emergency cases over routine dentistry.

The “major obstacle” to increasing capacity is “fallow time” – the mandated time needed between patients to minimise risks of coronavirus transmission – dentists say.

And despite new regulations allowing dentists to cut this wait time down from 60 minutes  following an Aerosol Generating Procedure (APG) to potentially as low as 15 minutes, 57 per cent said they lack the funds to invest in the equipment required to do so.

As a result, tens of millions of patients are missing out on treatment, according to the BDA.

Data obtained through freedom of information requests show there were around 14.5 million fewer treatments delivered by NHS dentists in England between April and August 2020 compared to the same period last year – where monthly delivery was around 3.3million on average.

According to the BDA activity has not exceeded a third of normal levels for September and October, bringing the number of missed courses to an estimated 19 million.  

“Covid-19 restrictions on patient throughput, set by government, are placing significant limits on the number of patients we can treat for the foreseeable future. Your support could help bring tens of millions of patients back through our doors to get the care they need,” the letter to Mr Hancock states.

Eddie Crouch, BDA Chair, said coronavirus restrictions have left dentists “firefighting with huge backlogs”.

“We now face a Catch-22. New rules could bring back a dose of normality, but come with a multi-million-pound bill for new kit that practices simply cannot afford,” he said.  

“On paper we have a chance to restore services to millions, but without support from Government it won’t translate into better access.”  

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Six staff members at Newcastle factory which produces medicine for the NHS test positive for coronavirus

Six workers at a Newcastle factory that produces medication for the NHS have been sent home after testing positive for coronavirus.

Accord Healthcare, which employs more than 350 people, said half a dozen members of staff had contracted the virus and were now self-isolating.

The pharmaceutical company creates medication and tablets for the health industry, including the NHS, at its 22-acre site in Fawdon.

Accord Healthcare said 1.7% of its workforce were currently absent due to Covid-19 with the majority of those testing positive being identified through its in-house testing after displaying no symptoms.

Keith Daniels, associate vice president operations at Accord said: “We employ over 350 at Accord in Newcastle, the majority of our workforce on site are critical workers manufacturing essential medicines for the NHS.

“As a critical supplier to the NHS, we proactively developed as early as February a number of initiatives to protect our workforce including more recently twice-weekly antigen testing, heightened social distancing measures, and regular Covid communications exceeding the guidance from Public Health England, Newcastle Public Health and the Health and Safety Executive.

“Our testing works alongside a structured reporting system with standard procedures for isolation, tracing and clean down where necessary.

“We currently have 1.7% of our workforce absent due to Covid, the majority who have been identified by our in-house testing. As a majority of these cases are asymptomatic, they ordinarily would not have been identified as Covid-19 positive without this proactive measure.

“As a responsible employer, we believe that our unique testing programme provides a robust way to ensure the safety of our staff and their families, which of course identifies early on positive cases.

“Whilst this potentially provides a higher ratio of ordinarily undetected positive cases, this also provides a very thorough, and Covid-secure approach to keep our employees and their families safe while continuing to manufacture and provide medicines to those who need them.”

Accord took over the Fawdon site in 2015 after pharmaceutical firm Sanofi closed down the factory and relocated to France.

It now produces around 110 million tablets every month for use in conditions such as Alzheimer’s and also for use in chemotherapy.

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Six NHS staff contract Covid after car sharing without wearing masks

Six NHS hospital staff have been sent home after falling ill with Covid-19 when they breached government rules by not wearing a mask when sharing lifts to and from work.

graphical user interface, application: Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

The six were told not to come into work by the University Hospitals of North Midlands trust, which is already having to deliver services with almost 600 personnel off work because of the illness.

Staff at the trust, which runs the Royal Stoke and Stafford County hospitals, were told about the incident in an email last week from Dr John Oxtoby, the trust’s medical director. The trust refused to say what roles the six perform at what is one of the NHS’s biggest, or at which hospital they work.

Their actions are a clear breach of the government’s guidance on the measures passengers should take to ensure they are not spreading or being exposed to coronavirus if they are travelling with people who are not in their household or support bubble.

It states that people travelling should “ask the driver and passengers to wear a face covering” as well as opening windows to ensure ventilation, cleaning vehicles in between journeys and sharing the car with the same people on each trip.

In his email to staff on 28 October, Oxtoby said: “It is essential that all staff who are car sharing wear a mask for the full journey to and from work.

“This week we had to send six members of staff home as they did not wear masks and have now developed Covid-19 symptoms.”

He also reminded staff to always wear a visor in clinical areas where doing so is advised, even if a patient has tested negative. The trust refused to say if any staff had recently flouted that rule.

On Tuesday this week, 987 of the trust’s 11,500 staff were off sick, of whom 583 either had Covid-19 or were isolating because someone in their household was displaying symptoms. Those 583 represented a sharp increase on the 421 staff who were off sick due to Covid-19 when Oxtoby sent his email on 28 October – a 39% rise in just six days.

Asked about the behaviour of the six staff, Oxtoby said that trust staff, like everyone in the NHS, had been working hard throughout the pandemic. But, he added: “We all obviously have a responsibility to observe national guidance and our staff are regularly kept up to date with the latest advice as it becomes available.

“Wearing a face mask and eye protection alongside hand washing and social distancing are all important measures of reducing the spread of Covid-19 in our hospitals and to keep our patients and communities safe.”

Lindsay Meeks, the Royal College of Nursing’s West Midlands regional director, said: “While there’s no suggestion this incident involves any of our members, we would urge all nursing staff to adhere to the Covid-19 restrictions in place in their area, and to any guidelines put in place

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Egyptian NHS doctor stricken by Covid seeks visa reassurances from Home Office

a man holding a fish: Dr Basem Enany has thanked the more than 4,000 people who donated to a crowdfunder to pay for his legal and medical bills.

© Photograph: GoFundMe/PA
Dr Basem Enany has thanked the more than 4,000 people who donated to a crowdfunder to pay for his legal and medical bills.

An Egyptian NHS doctor who became critically ill after complications from contracting Covid-19, has spoken for the first time about his fears of being removed from the UK by the Home Office while he lay in his hospital bed on a ventilator.

Dr Basem Enany, a locum consultant cardiologist at York teaching hospital, had treated many coronavirus patients. He was placed on a ventilator after developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare complication of Covid-19 and other viruses, which has left him partially paralysed. He can now breathe unaided but believes he has a long rehabilitation journey ahead of him.

“At first I had the usual symptoms of Covid – cough, fever, loss of taste and smell – but then I began to develop a weakness throughout my body. Then I was no longer able to move and couldn’t breathe properly.” he said. “I had never seen this happen in any of the Covid patients I had treated and had to research my symptoms as they were so unusual.”

He has a work visa that is due to expire next month. He and his wife, Marwa Mohamed, believe they and their four young daughters could face removal from the UK as he is unlikely to be well enough by December to renew the visa.

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While Enany has regained partial use of his hands, his legs remain paralysed and he is waiting to be moved from Leeds general infirmary to a specialist neuro-rehabilitation facility. “I was not sedated on the ventilator and was lying awake in my hospital bed thinking: ‘Oh my God, my visa is about to finish,’” he said.

Enany thanked the dedicated NHS workers who have been looking after him and the more than 4,000 people who have made donations to a crowdfund that will pay for his legal and medical bills. Any remaining funds will be donated to research into Covid-19 and into Guillain-Barré syndrome.

While the Home Office has said it had no plans to deport the family, Enany does not know what kind of replacement visa he will receive, how long it will be for and whether it will allow work.

While Enany thanked the Home Office for its reassurances, he said: “We still don’t have any solid documents in our hands and my visa will expire soon.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We’ve spoken to Dr Enany’s family to reassure them that their immigration status is not in jeopardy and they are not facing enforcement action. They are here entirely legally and have every right to remain the UK. We will continue to work with them to find a way forward. Our thoughts remain with Dr Enany and his family

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VitalHub Continues to Increase NHS UK Presence with Additional Regional Licensing Deal of Synopsis Products

TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — VitalHub Corp. (the “Company” or “VitalHub”) (TSXV: VHI) is pleased to announce the licensing of newly-acquired subsidiary Intouch With Health’s (“Intouch”) digital, at-home pre-op solutions, Synopsis iQ, to Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (“Northumbria” or the “Trust”).

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has licensed VitalHub subsidiary Intouch’s digital pre-operative solution platform, Synopsis iQ, as the Trust launches a new digital pre-operative assessment (POA) pathway that will improve demand and capacity planning and resource utilization, helping to fill last-minute surgery slots and reducing the number of face-to-face appointments the department processes.

The Synopsis solution will enable Northumbria to meet a number of Trust targets, such as reducing the face-to-face appointments, which has become a much-needed requirement in the pandemic climate. Synopsis will provide the Trust with tools to afford patients with an improved experience leading up to surgery, affecting both the delivery and quality of care provided.

The project is part of the Trust’s drive to create a more efficient operating room booking pathway by creating a pool of ‘pre-op ready’ patients’ consultants can use to create operating room lists and fill last-minute surgery slots. As part of the project, patients waiting for surgery will also be able to complete their POA health questionnaire at home via a secure link on the Trust’s website. Results are then sent to the Trust’s pre-operative assessment department where staff can triage and swim-lane patients into the correct fitness and readiness categories.

The Trust identified a considerable burden on pre-op assessment departments, facing high volumes of last-minute requests for patient appointments, resulting in operating time delays and resource inefficiencies. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trust established a target to reduce the number of face-to-face appointments patients had to attend, creating a need for a pre-op pathway solution, and has selected Synopsis iQ and Synopsis Home as their solutions of choice to enable the progression of this target.

Digitizing the pre-operative assessment process will also allow consultants and anaesthetists to access full patient notes from any of the Trust’s four hospital sites. The project will be rolled out across North Tyneside General Hospital, Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, Hexham General Hospital and Wansbeck General Hospital, giving staff across all four hospitals secure access to patient records and a real-time view of each patient’s status through the pre-operative pathway.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is a regional healthcare network that provides a range of health and care services to support more than 500,000 people living in Northumberland and North Tyneside. The Trust delivers care from 11 sites, including their emergency care hospital, general and community hospitals, outpatient and diagnostic centers, an elderly care unit and an integrated health and social care facility. The Trust admitted over 116,000 patients and handled over 368,000 outpatient appointments in the 2017/18 period.

“We are seeing an aggressive uptick in awareness and interest in the Synopsis suite of products,” said Dan Matlow, CEO of VitalHub Corp. “With this contract, we add another

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