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a blog by Chris Barrow

Oh dear - I'll get myself in trouble with this post about Christmas

You know me well enough to know that my default is "positive" but every now and then I feel compelled to issue a word of warning.

"Knackered and frayed"

That was the description of her team offered by one client yesterday in her weekly progress report "The Extreme Weekly Tracker".

The increased transmission rate across the UK has already played havoc with some practice's rotas and their ability to catch up or keep up with their continuing care obligation.

Team members and patients are testing positive, self-isolating, shielding and caring for children - and these are all necessary responses but they damage to the continuity of dental business.

In lockdown 1.0 it was relatively easy. The team were furloughed and some financial support was available from the NHS, loans and plan payments. Frustrating though it seemed - you just had to stay at home, think, plan and communicate.

Now, after a day in PPE, as well as working ON your business, you have to manage the shifting ground of patient and team attendance, as well as your own anxieties and irritability, and the exhaustion of those around around you.

It's doubly frustrating when we consider that it's raining new patients and many of my clients are reporting record months.

The challenge with what I'm going to say next is that I'll be labelled a grinch - but the announcements around Christmas relaxation of restrictions can only have one effect - more transmission.

We seem to be ready to pay that price for the sake of those commerce sectors that are taking a bashing, as well as to be able to spend time with our families at this important time of year.

I get the economic and mental health arguments but I struggle a bit to understand. It seems like a war in which the generals agree "look, the troops in the trenches are getting really bored, wet and cold, standing around in the mud - so let's launch an attack and have them run towards the machine guns, so as to give them a bit of a change."

There's no doubt that I want to see my family over Christmas but we are already considering a garden party on Boxing Day - appropriate clothing, lights, roaring chiminea, music (I know - it's OK for you - you have a garden).

There's not a snowball in hell's chance that you will see me in any pub, restaurant or other public gathering.

The Government and the people will, of course, have their way - and various Mayors are already mobilising for more relaxation. There will be festivities.

So you had better grit your teeth and prepare for the fact that your diary, your rota, your team and your patients are going to be a rapidly changing puzzle that will need solving every day from now well into Q1 of 2021 - as Christmas transmission works its way through the population.

Vaccine? Q3 in my humble opinion - and with a bit of luck I might be able to down a pint on 24th December 2021.

Sorry - I'll give you something to be cheerful about tomorrow

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