Q&A: Are pregnant staff considered clinically vulnerable?

Q. A team member has informed the practice that she is pregnant. Please explain the measures we need to implement to protect pregnant staff during the coronavirus crisis. Are pregnant staff considered clinically vulnerable?

A. Some higher-risk occupations, such as those with more significant public contact or healthcare professionals, carry a higher risk of exposure to the virus. In healthcare settings, this may include working in specific higher-risk areas or according to higher-risk procedures, as summarised in the Public Health England publication Guidance on Infection Prevention and Control…

Q&A: How can we free up our phone lines?

Q. We use a remote self-check-in system to regulate patient flow and maintain a safe social distance. However, patients cannot call in, as the line is usually busy. How can we free up our phone lines?

A. Practices’ telephone systems are under extreme pressure now, with triage calls and all other routine calls competing for the lines. Installing additional lines is an added expense when practice funds are severely stretched…

Data protection in times of COVID-19

Naomi Korn, Managing Director, Naomi Korn Associates, talks about the key considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Working remotely presents new data protection security risks, with staff using their own equipment and communicating on public platforms such as Zoom.

If staff have been furloughed, make sure that any potential data breaches and Subject Access Requests are monitored and a process put in place to respond to them accordingly.

Ensure that staff, contractors and others who work for or on behalf of your organisation are aware of their roles and responsibilities in terms of legal compliance and home working. Webinars and/or update emails are useful examples of ways to make sure that levels of awareness remain high.

Update your online Privacy Notice/s and any other privacy statements to take into account new ways of processing personal data and different platforms and systems that you might be using.

Do not save personal data unless there is a reason to do so. This means deleting emails as necessary, and not storing personal information.

Coronavirus – the employment implications

Glenys Bridges provides a summary of the current employment implications of the coronavirus outbreak.


Employers have a statutory duty of care for people’s health and safety at work, so employers should ensure that the team is aware of what you are doing to protect people’s health, including what to do if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.

Schools are now closed due to COVID-19 (other than for key workers’ children and some vulnerable children). The main right for employees in this situation is emergency dependant leave to look after children.

You may need to introduce temporary measures to protect the workforce and the practice. These measures include moving to short-time working by agreement with the employees, or ‘furloughing’ staff under the government scheme.

If workers are asked to work extra hours to cover for absent staff (for example, due to staff furlough, or sickness), make sure you comply with your obligations under the Working Time Regulations.

CQC’s examples of notable practice: Is it Safe?

Shilla Talati shares some examples of notable practice that have been highlighted by the CQC.


The CQC want to see reliable safety systems and processes (including safeguarding) and found it particularly useful when practices held a safeguarding folder.

Practices should have safeguarding policies and procedures to provide staff with information about identifying, reporting and dealing with suspected abuse and evidence that staff have received safeguarding training.

When practices receive national patient safety and medicines alerts from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), these should be discussed with staff, acted on and stored for future reference.

How does the practice maintain the equipment and medicines? The CQC looked at servicing documentation for maintaining equipment and how staff carried out checks in line with the manufacturers’ recommendations.
The CQC will look at what systems are used for prescribing, dispensing and storing medicines.

Is your head in the clouds about CQC inspections?

In the first of a series of articles, Nicki Rowland provides advice on what to do to prepare for CQC inspections.


CQC inspectors expect quality assurance to be the foundation of governance in every dental practice.

Quality assurance is: the process of reviewing policy and procedures; training the dental team on legal changes; auditing; risk assessments and surveys.

There is a demonstrable link between the leadership of a dental practice and safety issues within the practice, and this is a common area of inspection failure.

Even if the practice manager is the registered manager, ultimate responsibility lies with the principal dentist irrespective of the organisational structure.

Dental practice marketing: Know your role

Shilla Talati looks at the practice manager’s role in using marketing to generate more income for the practice.


The practice manager can influence the outcomes of marketing by reviewing the marketing strategy and developing a marketing plan.

You should think of ways that you can support the internal marketing structure of the practice to improve the chances of success of a marketing campaign.

Involve staff in creating a marketing plan by inviting them to come up with ideas, and offering rewards when campaigns are successful.

Effective communication with the public, existing patients and new clients is vital, including communicating the practice’s USPs and developing a brand style so that the practice is easily recognizable in communications.

Ideas to help make your practice safe

Ideas to help make your practice safe


By ‘safe’, CQC means that people are protected from abuse and avoidable harm. Abuse can be physical, sexual, mental or psychological, financial, neglect, institutional or discriminatory abuse.

The regulations covering CQC inspections under the ‘safe’ category are the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.

Safety includes a number of areas within the practice, which can include aspects relating to: patients, staff, equipment, premises and dental treatments.

Safety includes ensuring that lessons are learned and improvements made when things go wrong in the practice.

Safety also includes making sure that systems, processes and practices are in place so that all care and treatment is carried out safely.