SDA Opinion About FFP3 Provision by The NHS

The stand-off between Scottish dentists and the Scottish Government/NSS relating to satisfactory FFP3 provision for AGPs, demonstrates the regard which the NSS/CDO have towards the safety of our staff and patients, in addition to the lack of urgency given to kick-starting the provision of Scotland’s routine NHS General Dental Services.

The statement made by Mr Paul Cushley (Director of Dentistry) and Mr Gordon Beattie (Director of National Procurement) on 02/09/2020 regarding 3M out of date masks is akin to either “using endodontic files more than once is perfectly safe,” or “not having a washer disinfector in a dental practice is perfectly safe” or using out of date materials on dental patients is perfectly safe.” These are statements which we may expect to be made in a deliberate effort to be contentious, although not from a dental professional. Should Mr Cushley be prepared to answer the following questions honestly, he may arrive at the same sceptical conclusions as the majority of the dental community:

  • Are in date masks more reliable than out of masks?
  • Does testing 5-10% of 3M 1863 masks provide evidence which allows Mr Cushley to state with such a broad brush that we “can be assured those products have passed stringent tests.”
  • Have several hundred healthcare workers lost their lives at the hands of SARS-CoV-2?
  • Was there any purpose in appointing Inspec, given that they did not award a single ‘pass’ to any of the 3 clauses chosen by NSS from the 17 available to be revalidated?
  • In consideration of the O.N.S. assertion that dental professionals are most at risk in terms of exposures to infective agents, are we correct to take our own view on the safety of out of date masks?
  • Should dentists “purchase their own alternatives” for NHS work and are other NHS staff being asked to purchase PPE?
  • Why has it taken until “recently’ for NSS/SG to secure “a sustainable long-term Scottish supply pipeline for FFP3 masks?” Indeed, what precluded earlier sourcing? Also, in view of the levels of AGP inactivity in dental practice and the “average of around 800 FFP3 respirators for each practice,” what prompted the abandonment of such a huge stockpile?
  • Should we disregard the many reports of straps failing on 3M 1863 masks?


The tone of the correspondence is quite derisory in several instances but particularly in respect of the inference that ‘it’s good enough for everybody else so it’s good enough for you.’ The counter to this might be that the Scottish Government and CDO set Scottish Dentists apart from their NHS colleagues regarding dental AGP risks, to the extent of forced closures. This implies that the safety considerations cannot be assimilated. Secondary to this was the inadequate sourcing of in date PPE by SG/NSS from March 2020.

Finally, it might be inferred from recent NSS communications that it is facile on one hand to genuinely apply “stringent” to ventilation requirements (which are far less significant than qualitative PPE), whilst ‘not so stringent’ has been glued to the PPE itself. This is compounded when those advising are not themselves the perpetrators or subjects of AGPs. On this occasion we feel we must decline your advice on FFP3 respirators.

More Posts from The Scottish Dental Association

SDA Report of the LDC Conference “Scottish Dentistry: Where next?”

Event: LDC Conference Scottish Dentistry: Where next? Date: 27 May 2021 Panel: Tom Ferris, David Notman, Alan Whittet, David McPherson, Lindsay Milton Analysis: By The SDA on 28 May 2021 The SDA welcomed the Local Dental Committees initiative to engage with the profession, Practitioner Services Division, and the Chief Dental Officer for Scotland. We were delighted to have many members at the event, and we continue to welcome their feedback and comments. We would encourage our colleagues who missed the event to re watch it at their earliest convenience. This event continues the discussion we started with The SDA Summit

Read More »

The SDA Summit

The SDA Summit We are delighted to announce our first SDA event on Tuesday 16th of March from 12.00 – 2.30 on webinarjam. This webinar aims to inform and stimulate discussion around the promised changes to the post-pandemic SDR. If you are a dental professional and you have questions or ideas then please get in touch and book the event here. The Chief Dental Officer (CDO) has stated that he wishes to engage widely with the profession. This is a new dynamic and presents a unique opportunity for the majority of the dental profession to have a role in this

Read More »

“Scottish Dental Students Forced to repeat a year” BBC News

Scottish dental students forced to repeat a year – BBC News A massive blow to the profession as VTs repeat a year, no new graduates, EU dentists heading home and the difficulty taking on dentists out with Scotland. It doesn’t matter how long qualified you are if you have never had a Scottish NHS list number you will be offered COVID support along the same lines as the recently qualified vocational trainees. As we all know the only way NHS dentistry has survived this long is through volume of work and COVID has put a complete halt on this. We

Read More »

Consultation on SDR Reform

As you will be aware the SDR and general dental services are to be fundamentally changed. This will directly effect each one of us and our patients‘ future care. Tom Ferris (CDO Scotland) has said that there will be consultation with the profession and the SDA will ensure that we present all of your views coherently. The survey is being conducted via Scottish Dental Network. See link below. Initial SDA Consultation on SDR Reform – Scottish Dental Network

Read More »

NHS Lothian COVID-19 Update No 22 – 27th October 2020

Angus Walls, Director Edinburgh Dental Institute 4th Floor Lauriston Building Lauriston Place Edinburgh EH3 9HA Content of this update PCA and SDR 148 Patient Communication National SoP IPC guidance PPE stock and usage SARS CoV2 vaccination program   Dear Colleagues, I am sending you the most recent PCA from CDO in association with this letter, I must apologise, this should have come to you yesterday. As I am sure you are aware there was an announcement in Parliament recently that a full range of dental care would be available through NHS dental practices from the 1st November. This PCA underpins

Read More »

Agenda for Change

The eagerly anticipated “Agenda for Change” (within the NHS) highlights once more just how far Scottish NHS dentists have fallen. The Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) amply demonstrates how they feel about dentistry and the professionals showing no improved recognition over the last two decades and no peer acknowledgement. https://www.nhsemployers.org/pay-pensions-and-reward/agenda-for-change We can never aspire to this but who works for nothing and how far are we prepared to be left behind? The question must be asked in relation to the act of NHS dental Items of Service (IOS) treatment because they impact hugely on everything that we and our

Read More »

SDR Recommendations

6 October 2020 Scottish Dental Association Working Group on new SDR proposals   Preamble The Scottish Dental Association (SDA) recognises, along with almost the entire profession and the current CDO, that the pre COVID SDR is not fit for purpose for the likely future situation we face. It should be noted anecdotal evidence suggests most practitioners have felt the previous SDR was not fit for purpose for several years. To propose potential new solutions the SDA has formed a working group to briefly formulate potential new SDR options. The SDA welcomes feedback from all sectors within Scottish dentistry on this

Read More »