Monday, 10 December 2012

Dr Tariq Drabu and Langley Dental Practice Apply to Join Second Wave of NHS Dental Pilots

Following the announcement in October 2012 from the Department of Health in England that more new practices are going to be added to the current dental pilots that are testing out new ways of working, Langley Dental Practice has applied to be a second wave pilot practice. From April 2013, around 25 extra pilot sites are to be added to the existing 70 dental practices that have been trialing new ways of delivering NHS dentistry. It is hoped that these new extra sites will help fine tune different parts of a proposed new dental contract that will see dentists paid for the number of patients they care for and the health results they produce rather than, as they are now, simply the number of courses of treatment they perform.

It is now 10 years since the Options for Change report was published by the Department of Health. That report proposed a new NHS dental service for England and contained radical changes and recommendations, designed to provide a first class NHS dental service, responsive to local needs. That report recommended introducing pilots to test new ways of working and many dentists put themselves forward to trial these. Regrettably the Department of Health never waited for the results of those pilots and trials but instead forced through a new NHS dental contract that was imposed on the profession back in 2006. That NHS contract, which is still current, was hailed by the Department of Health as having a focus on prevention but instead it has put dentists on a target driven treadmill based on courses of treatment. The NHS contract is seen as a failure by the dental profession, by patients and probably by the Department of Health who have acknowledged that it does not explicitly reward quality or prevention. That is why in 2009, just 3 years after the contract was introduced, the Department commissioned another review of NHS dentistry in England led by Professor Jimmy Steele from Newcastle University. The Steele review suggests putting new pilot schemes in place before rolling out any new contract based on registration, capitation and quality.

Ten years ago in 2002 Langley Dental Practice put itself forward as a pilot site to test some of the ideas in the Options for Change document. We wanted to be at the forefront of change and innovation. The oral surgery CATS service which delivers minor oral surgery procedures in a clinic based primary-care environment was one of the fruits of that pilot. However many of the other positive findings from many pilots up and down the country were never taken forward. Having looked at the current situation I feel that the time is right again to try and be at the forefront of delivering change, innovation and a better dental service to our patients. We need to correct the errors of the 2006 NHS dental contract – hence why we have applied.

Any proposed NHS new dental contract must deliver quality for patients and value for the taxpayer. It needs to be properly tested and piloted to make sure that it is robust and sound. We need to make sure that the errors of the past are not repeated. Langley Dental Practice wants to remain at the forefront of change and innovation in delivering NHS dental care, so we have put ourselves forward to trial this new prototype dental contract in a second wave pilot. We will find out later this month whether we have been successful and look forward to learning the results and being given the chance to improve services for our patients.

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