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17 Apr 2020

Transferring Skills for the Greater Good

Transferring Skills for the Greater Good
Transferring skills for the greater good

As part of the Government’s response to COVID-19, NHS England has set out a delivery plan for redeploying the dental workforce

The idea is to utilise the clinical skills and capabilities of dental professionals to supplement and support other areas of the healthcare service. There are also potential roles for non-clinical staff to fulfil if they wish, many of which are detailed within the live document that is updated regularly.


The most important aspect for anyone who is considering a voluntary transfer of their skills to others areas, or who has already been redeployed, is to remain working within your framework of competency. Potential roles for redeployment have been mapped in the aforementioned NHS document. Essentially, it lists the responsibilities that dentists and team members have in the dental practice and how these might translate into different settings from A&E to critical care, general hospital, general medical practice, ambulance service, NHS 111, social care and COVID-19 testing.

Potential roles for different members of the dental team include:

Dental nurse

Decontamination measures.

Administrative jobs.

Talking to relatives.

Helping with feeding.

Moving patients.

Donning PPE.

Bedside support.

Equipment preparation.

Act as ‘runners’ between teams.

Turning and Washing Patients.


Dental therapist (all of the above, plus:)

Wound dressing.

Suture Removal.

Patient observations and monitoring.

History taking.


Dentist (all of the above two lists, plus:)

Radiography (Foundation dentists and GDPs).

Phlebotomy and cannulation (dentists with sedation training).


Dental technician

Administrative jobs.

Talking to relatives.

Bedside support.

Equipment preparation.

Act as ‘runners’ between teams.


Spreading a little love

A quick search online demonstrates just how many individuals have made the jump from dentistry into other healthcare settings. They show how well dental professionals have adapted to their new environments in order to do so much, despite the differences they have had to quickly become familiar with.

One article on the Dental Nursing website details two dental nurses’ experiences and makes for compelling reading. Not only do the two dental nurses interviewed provide further insight into the different ways they are working, but they also offer reassurance that their skills and those of colleagues can make a huge difference.

Other stories to browse, if you’re looking for insight into what it’s like working on and supporting on the frontline, are available on the BDA website and a first hand account of what it's like

The process

For anyone interested in transferring their skills and redeploying into another industry, there is a simple process in place. It is essential to work to any advice or requests from your trust or employer before moving ahead, as you may need to suspend or reorganise your current commitments.

Register your interest here

Following triage, your information will be shared with relevant regional teams, who will recruit according to demand/operational need

Training and induction will be provided

You will need to inform your indemnity provider and employer (where relevant)

The trust or organisation you are redeployed to will conduct identity checks and provide a contract to reflect working hours, pay arrangements, annual leave entitlement etc.

As both training and induction are so important when professionals move into new environments, Health Education England offers some guidance in the area to ensure individuals get the support they need, available here

NHS Nightingale

The first COVID-19 field hospital in Britain opened in the ExCel centre in London on April 3rd, followed by NHS Nightingale hospitals in Birmingham and Manchester. Other similar centres are planned across the country, including Bristol, Harrogate, Sunderland and Exeter. They are designed to treat thousands of people, allowing priority for patients in the most critical situations to be cared for in normal hospitals. Nightingale Hospitals have been described as an “appropriate use of NHS resources” in the preparation for the peak of COVID-19 cases. As such, these temporary centres will likely be prime locations for the redeployment of dental professionals as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

Thank you

All that is left to say is thank you. Thank you to all those individuals from all corners of the dental profession who are selflessly supporting vital services in other areas of healthcare. We for one are proud to be associated with a profession where so many people across the UK have offered their skills and experiences to those who really need them. 




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