07 Aug 2020
Since our recent COVID-19 update about dental practice in Victoria, the Victorian Government has released new workforce stage 4 restrictions.
Stage 4 restrictions are aligned to Victorian Government’s current State of Disaster and focus on saving and protecting the lives of all Victorians through restricting non-essential movement across the state.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Victoria released a list of Permitted Work Premises under stage 4 restrictions in Victoria, for the purposes of the Restricted Activity Directions (Restricted Areas) (No. 6), effective as at 5 August 2020 from 11:59pm (version 1.0).
Listed under the Health and Social Assistance sector, the list of Permitted Work Premises includes dentists [sic]* for urgent care as a permitted work premises.
* This applies to all dental practitioners
This means that dental practitioners in metropolitan Melbourne can only provide urgent care.
The Board expects all dental practitioners, including dentists, dental therapists, dental hygienists, dental prosthetists and oral health therapists to follow the Victorian stage 4 restrictions and apply these in their practice setting.
While the restrictions note that Ahpra-registered practitioners can continue to operate, they state that:
All Ahpra registered health workers − and in addition, social work, speech pathology, dietetics and any other health worker required to fulfil a care plan endorsed by NDIS, TAC, Workcover or DVA − to provide services that prevent a significant change/deterioration in functional independence necessitating escalation of care (e.g. a requirement for specialist input/review, an increase in care needs and/or alternate accommodation, avoiding a hospital admission or emergency department presentation).
Practitioners must critically assess whether the service is essential for the patient/client in the next six-week period.
If operating as a private practitioner or within a private practice setting, practitioners or their employers will need to ensure that their patients/clients fit within the prescribed inclusion criteria for an essential service:
Practitioners should continue to monitor the DHHS website, and in particular the link above, for updates.
Routine services are not permitted.
The Victorian Government also expects employers to complete a COVID Safe Plan by 11.59pm on 7 August 2020.
Some useful resources to help you manage COVID-19 include:
Your professional association can provide guidance about how to comply with the latest directions. For example, the Australian Dental Association Victoria Branch has advised its members practising in metropolitan Melbourne to practise at ADA Level 3 dental service restriction levels.
If this information doesn’t tell you what you need to know, you can send your questions directly to Ahpra by email: COVID19@ahpra.gov.au.
We urge you to take care of your own health during this pandemic. If you need to talk to someone support is just a quick phone call away.
An experienced team of counsellors is ready to take your call. It’s free and support is available 24/7. You do not have to give your name or other details and can seek support anonymously.
Access Dental Practitioner Support:
Information about general support services is available on the Ahpra website.
Dr Murray Thomas
Chair, Dental Board of Australia