Ready for the Unexpected?


A robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is essential for any businesses and a Care Quality Commission requirement for all the right reasons. A BCP is also required under the terms of an NHS contract.

Your practice BCP helps to ensure that in the event of a “crisis”, “disaster” or “serious incident”, the team respond effectively, patients are impacted as little as possible and the business is able to professionally restore service by following a set of pre-planned guidelines.

Paper with words BCP Business Continuity Plan

Importantly, your BCP is prepared when all is going well and you have the time to think plans through methodically and logically for all kinds of “what-if” scenarios.

In the event of something going seriously wrong e.g. floods, loss of power, fire, IT or even something as simple as a telephone failure, the whole team can go straight to this document and have access to the right people along with guidelines on how to minimize disruption, danger and risk.

The BCP should be written to clearly and simply outline how the practice can realistically recover from a wide range of failures or disasters and will be different for each practice dependent on local and available resources.

Always appoint a named individual to be responsible for maintaining the BCP and hold primary responsibility for leading any crisis. Also name a couple of deputies to cover absences.

Maintain an accurate list of contact details for all team members within the BCP, including mobile phone and e-mail, so that you can quickly keep everyone up to date with developments and ask for support or keep people away.

Think about how you will make contact with patients booked in for appointments if you are unable to access computer files. Some practices print off patient contact lists each evening for the next morning’s appointments and keep in a safe place.

An up to date and accurate list of key support contacts, reference/contract numbers and any agreements for support is an essential part of the BCP so that you can react and implement quickly. This should include:

  1. Practice Insurance Company
    1. Claim and Help Lines
    2. Policy numbers
  2. Your Contingency site
    1. “Buddy” up with a local dental practice and agree to provide temporary accommodation/shelter and facilities to each other in the event of a crisis
    2. Confirm this agreement in writing annually
  3. NHS Local Area Team (if applicable)
    1. Any decision made to reduce or stop NHS services, must be communicated to the Local Area Team who will also update the NHS Helpline 111
  4. Care Quality Commission
  5. IT Support Team(s)
    1. Server/network support
    2. Data back-up/recovery arrangements
  6. Gas emergency telephone number
  7. Electricity emergency telephone number
  8. Water emergency telephone number
  9. Temporary heating facilities e.g. gas/electric heaters
  10. Security alarm engineers
  11. Fire alarm engineers
  12. Telephone and Broadband providers/support teams
  13. Plan Providers
    1. Can assist with patient contact details
  14. Essential tradesmen
    1. Electrician
    2. Plumber
    3. Heating engineer
    4. Builder
    5. Joiner
    6. Roofer

Crisis Recovery Concept

Within the BCP, consider various scenarios and outline how you want each to be handled and who is to be contacted. Many scenarios can be considered including:

  1. Inability to access or enter the premises for any reason e.g. police/fire incident/cordon
    1. Contingency sites
    2. Communication with team, patients and suppliers
  2. Loss of computer systems including viruses and server failure
    1. Have a back-up “paper” system ready, including template forms/records for clinicians and front of house/reception staff
    2. Robust back-up and recovery processes, preferably through an external third party provider
  3. Loss of telephone/Internet services
    1. Call diversions
    2. Use of mobile phones
  4. Loss of electricity
    1. Basic checks such as fuse box/trip switches
    2. External problems and timescales
    3. Can the practice safely remain open?
    4. Understand what will be impacted e.g. server may have short-term battery back-up
  1. Loss of gas supply
    1. Safety impact and timescales
    2. Gas leaks
      1. Location of shut-off valve
  2. Loss of water supply
    1. Safety impact and timescales
    2. Floods/escape of water
      1. Location of main/external shut-off valves
  3. Loss of fire/security systems
    1. Safety impact and timescales
    2. Additional security/surveillance
  4. Fire
    1. Incorporate your full Fire safety/evacuation procedures
    2. Fire exits and routes
  5. Unexpected loss of key suppliers/essential supplies
    1. Laboratories
    2. Dental materials/drugs
    3. Maintain an up to date list of contact details for all key suppliers
  1. Loss of dental records
    1. Back-up and recovery arrangements
    2. Safety and protection of paper and electronic records
  1. Serious injury or death of registered clinicians
  2. Serious injury or death of key staff members
  3. Simple, clear and effective communication plans in the event of any serious incident
    1. Emergency services
    2. Practice team and immediate families
    3. Patients
    4. NHS Local Area Teams (if applicable)
    5. Care Quality Commission
    6. Media relations

Remember to share your BCP with all members of the team and make it readily available within the practice – a red cover can effectively highlight its importance.

Key members of the team should have a copy of the BCP available at home for “out of hours” emergency use.

Hopefully your practice will never need to make use of the BCP, but if the unexpected and unwelcome does happen, you and the rest of your team will appreciate the clear guidelines and quick access to known people who can help you through.

A well thought through and written BCP will help minimise disruption, focus the mind, deliver a professional response to future crises and could one day even be a lifesaver.

There is plenty of help out there to plug any management gaps including Your Dental Manager, so please do get in touch if you have any concerns or want to further improve the overall management/efficiency of your practice: or check our on-line calendar to book a complimentary chat.

Ready for the Unexpected?

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