We advised a member on whether they could still work in their practice after a family member tested positive for COVID-19.

The scene

A practice principal member of the DDU called the advice line after their daughter, who had recently returned from university and felt unwell, tested positive on a PCR test.

The member wanted to know whether they could go to work if they carried out daily lateral flow tests, as they were extremely concerned about how the practice would run in their absence.

DDU advice

Speaking to the DDU's adviser, the member said how stressful the pandemic had been for them, and how difficult they were finding running the practice during the pandemic. They felt staff morale was very low and that they needed to be in practice to keep everything running smoothly. They were extremely concerned about how patients would be accommodated during any required period of isolation.

The adviser explained that the member must follow the current government advice on isolation and the specific advice to healthcare workers on returning to work. They also advised the member to liaise with the local Health Protection Team at Public Health England and also review the Office of the Chief Dental Officer's most recent version of Standard Operating Procedures, with regard to when staff are notified as contacts.

Because the advice was frequently updated, the adviser stressed the importance of viewing up-to-date, 'live' guidance, and not relying on previously printed documents.

The adviser reassured the member that most patients would fully understand, and if there were any complaints arising from the need to cancel the appointments, they should contact the DDU again so we could advise how to handle those complaints.

Due to the stress our member was under, the adviser suggested they contact the DDU health and wellbeing helpline, a confidential and free service available 24 hours a day to all DDU members for any health and wellbeing related matters.

  • To access this service, members can call the confidential helpline number on 0330 678 1223 and simply state that they are a DDU member.
The member said how stressful the pandemic had been for them, and how difficult they were finding running the practice during the pandemic.

Learning points

It has been a very stressful time for all colleagues working in dental practice and the day-to-day running of a practice can be daunting. Talking through these matters can help reduce the stress, as well as help resolve issues of concern.

It is extremely important that relevant guidance is used for decision making so it is important to view the most up to date versions, as many protocols are changing frequently.

Support is available via the DDU advice line and the Health and Wellbeing helpline, both of which are available 24 hours a day.

This page was correct at publication on 20/09/2021. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.