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a blog by Chris Barrow

Have yourself a very uncertain little Christmas

Everybody (and I mean everybody) who has gone ahead with their team Christmas party reports that it has been a huge success.

A chance for people to relax, let off steam, release all the pent up frustration of the last 12 months, pat themselves on the back, celebrate, commiserate and feel friendship and union.

Everybody with a team Christmas party due in the next day or so reports that they have shared extensive "guidelines" with the team on how to minimise risk at the event (no snogging random strangers etc) - and have also made sure that a version of Sarah Buxton's "Christmas Party Policy" has been in place.

Everybody who has postponed their team Christmas party reports that, after a sit down chat with the team about the risks to self, family, friends, colleagues and patients - there has been a mutual decision that delay is the right thing to do - and many have compromised by using the time allocated (or some downtime in the practice) to have an informal and private celebration.

Time will tell who was right and wrong in this. As in many things Covid-related we have an interesting balance between individual civil liberty and the responsibility of regulators to lead the way.

The same, of course, for the vaccination debate and stories, growing in number, about people leaving the health and social care sector before submitting to mandatory jabs (according, confusingly, to their post code).

The same, yet again, in the application of new IPC guidelines. The observation of my own clients indicates a majority choosing NOT to follow them, based on the advice of compliance consultants and their own judgement and in direct opposition to the advice from on high.

Thank you to a friend who shared with me this exchange from last night's Prodental webinar:

"Prof. John Edmonds at the RSM webinar today discussing the Omicron variant said that due to Omicron's high transmissibility and a case doubling time of 2 to 3 days this VOC could be the worst Covid19 variant yet and result in the most serious wave, despite vaccination levels. With this in mind, would it not be prudent to just hold fire on introducing this new SOP for Dentistry until we know for sure whether or not Omicron is or is not so contagious and potentially virulent?"

Sara Hurley 07:49 PM

"It is important to clarify that the current evidence base is that the mode of transmission has not changed. Therefore, as with any other respiratory virus it is the robust application of the hierarchy of controls ( in order) recommended by UK HSA /UK IPC cell that remains vital. We recognise that one size does not fit all so the guidance sets a baseline, a minimum level of precautions for risk management. Following practice risk assessments and any patient clinical assessment the option to increase from SICPs to TBPs should be considered."

There's a common theme running through all of these debates and, sadly, the theme is uncertainty.

That accounts for the sudden increase in stress, anxiety, tension and burn out across the landscape.

There's an old saying that most people can deal with change but not with uncertainty and it's the lack of clear, consistent and agreed-upon direction that is causing so many problems both in the macro-landscape and in dentistry right now.

So I find myself repeating yet again the advice to my clients that they must show strong leadership.

Whatever individual decisions you do make about these uncertainties - make sure your decisions are firm, are clear, that you have the resolve to see them through, that you expect your team to follow you and that, in return, you will guide them towards a better future.

Last Christmas (that's a song isn't it) - Last Christmas we were thinking - "this is tough but let's get through it, because next Christmas will be better."

This Christmas it might be fair to change our message to "this is still tough and the chances are it will still be tough next Christmas - so we need to pull together more than ever to weather the storm, to support each other through the year ahead and, together, to make sure we survive - so that sometime in the future (who knows when) we can thrive."

I'm working hard to make sure my clients understand that being on our bus in 2022 is going to be a great choice.

Party or not, vaccinations or not, IPC or not, make sure that being on your bus is a the better option in uncertain times for your team and your patients.

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