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Scotland’s Chief Dental Officer visits New College Lanarkshire

Students and staff at New College Lanarkshire (@NCLanarkshire) are being fitted with bespoke PPE vital for undertaking work placements in dental surgeries.

Scotland’s Chief Dental Officer, Tom Ferris, and Paul Cushley, Dental Director for NHS National Services Scotland, visited the College to see personalised fitting sessions of the specialist equipment required for performing aerosol-generating procedures (AGP).

More than 200 students and 13 staff in NCL’s Dental Nursing team are undergoing fitting sessions at the state-of-the-art Dental suites in the Coatbridge Campus.

The FFP3 Mask is used to protect against respiratory borne pathogens. All Dental Nursing staff and students must be ‘face fit tested’ to ensure that they can achieve a suitable fit of the mask and that it operates at the required efficiency.

The cost is being covered by the Scottish Government and supplied by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) to around 4,000 locations across Scotland. The Dental team at NCL estimates the saving to the College instead of buying the PPE to be in the region of £13,000.

Leading safety supplier Arco has been commissioned by NHS NSS, with costs covered by the Scottish Government, to carry out the fittings lasting up to 30 minutes each.

The fitting involves a series of seven exercises, including breathing, head movements and bending. The monitor measures the quality of the air in the mask versus the environmental air quality to generate an overall ‘fit factor’.

After fitting, participants receive a certificate detailing their specified mask type and brand, which will allow students to return to work placements, and lecturers and assessors to observe their progress in surgeries.

NHS ­­National Services Scotland authorises the distribution of PPE from the Scottish Government to educational establishments and training providers.

Paul Cushley, Dental Director for NHS NSS, said:

“Dental practices have historically needed and used a disproportionately large amount of simple PPE. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, both the quantity and type of PPE have changed.

“The use of complex respirators and surgical gowns are required to deliver dental care and simple PPE has been required in public facing areas for the first time.

“It is essential for the delivery of quality dental care that the dental teams have an appropriately trained workforce.

“New College Lanarkshire has been at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge training in particular with a focus on innovation and development to ensure their dental nurses are familiar with and able to fully use the equipment required in dental practices for 21st century health care.”

Kate Wilson, Curriculum and Quality Leader for Dental at New College Lanarkshire, said:

“The PPE is invaluable to us as a team. In the first instance, we are using it for demonstration purposes in our classrooms, and then it becomes mandatory for use by our students during the Dental Practice Placement element of their studies.

“The pandemic has greatly impacted on our profession given that it has required all Dental staff to be retrained in the wearing of Covid PPE, which some have found difficult.

“Being custom-fitted with specialist face masks will ensure that our students and staff can be safe, comfortable and protected while carrying out their studies and their duties.”

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