The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has presented challenges to the whole health & social care sector, including intense challenge and changes to how care is delivered.
The pandemic has also presented challenges for how CQC works, but our core purpose remains the same and we continue to ensure that health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care.
On behalf of CQC we want to thank you and your teams for your work during the pandemic where you have been providing appropriate dental services. We know that many of you have been providing remote triaging and advice services and supporting the provision of urgent clinical care, including support for urgent dental care centers and supporting the health and care systems in your local area.
We understand that there has been anxiety for some that offering services might breach CQC regulations.
We are therefore writing to you today to confirm our position on dental providers providing care during this period.
Our position on the provision of dental services
Our current position can be found here on our website, which confirms that the decision to offer dental care services is one for the provider to take.
The CQC encourage dental providers to give proper consideration to the guidance given by Public Heath England (PHE) and the General Dental Council (GDC) alongside communications from the Chief Dental Officer (CDO) regardless of whether their practice is NHS, private, or mixed.
CQC cannot require providers of dental care services to close, unless we find clear evidence of a breach of our regulations that requires consideration of the use of our powers under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and associated regulations. As part of our regulatory function we will assess the extent to which providers are providing an appropriate level of safety within the context of our regulations. In doing so we will refer to prevailing guidance, not limited to but including guidance from PHE, GDC and communications from the CDO to help us reach a judgement on the extent to which the service currently being provided complies with our Regulations.
In conclusion, if a provider is able to open their practice during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe manner that will meet the CQC fundamental requirements to be safe and well-led in accordance with our Regulations 12 and 17 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014), then they would not be in breach of those CQC regulations and therefore not subject to enforcement action.
Please note however, if there was evidence on a case by case basis that the care and treatment was unsafe, then our enforcement powers may be exercised.
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.
Senior National Dental Advisor.