The UK graduates 1,250 dentists and hygienists/therapists per year and their entry to the workforce is critically important to maintain dental service provision and access to the public and patients. However, in the UK, dentistry closed down between 23rd March 2020 and 8th June 2020, with emergency care only being provided in designated centres. The impact on the training of dental surgeons, hygienists, therapists and nurses, was enormous as without clinical placement experience to provide the necessary hands-on training with patients, students cannot graduate.
Under a PFI contract, Integral manage the facilities at Birmingham Dental Hospital and the challenge we were given was to return students in the large open plan clinics, to safe provision of care, in a COVID-safe environment. What’s more, the greatest challenge and one still not met by many Dental Hospitals and Schools today, was a return to provision of Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs), using dental handpieces (drills and scalers and syringes).
We worked with academic staff from the University, NHS staff from the Trust, our landlords at PRIME PLC and consulting engineers in environmental testing, to design, install and commission special screens that cellularised each open surgery to ensure safe containment of aerosol.
Planning for this work started in early September 2020 and the substantial aspects were completed early November. An additional area was completed in February 2021.
As a result, Birmingham Dental School believe that the majority of their 250 final year students will now be able to claw back sufficient clinical experience from the lost 6-months to be ready for their final clinical examinations in June/July 2021.
This was a superb example of pragmatic team working between the University of Birmingham, NHS Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust as placement provider, Prime as Landlord, Integral as Landlord’s agent and DiS as designer and manufacturer. Five organisations all pulling together to prioritise and safeguard student education and patient care.Director of Research Institute of Clinical Sciences
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