Rosie .v. dentists
 

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Rosie .v. dentists

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Rosie .v. dentists

 

Rosie .v. dentists

UK dentists shook their fists in rage and frustration as the health minister dodged their questions at the 2006 British Dental Conference and Exhibition, Birmingham last week. Addressing the crowd in a speech that lasted more than 45 minutes, Rosie Winterton applauded the Government’s recent efforts with dentistry.

She said: ‘This year we’re spending £400m more on dentistry – that’s a 17% increase in real terms, and we’ve also opened two new dental schools in Lancashire and Liverpool.
‘I am well aware of the disagreements between us, but as with any major reform programme, the government has a duty to monitor the changes, and we set up the review group to do this.’
On moving forward, Winterton said there were major objectives. ‘We want to focus less on drill and fill and more on preventative, which is something the implementation review group will monitor.’

Winterton diffused the news on PCT closures. She said: ‘There may be fewer PCTs but they are now larger, and I know they are working well in the dental field.’

She moved on to list other ‘achievements’ such as the launch of the Oral Health plan in England, new fluoridation schemes and the allocation of £300k to Cancer UK to raise awareness of oral cancer.

To pacify dentists further, Winterton announced a £1m capital investment roll-out. She said: ‘We will be making this available for dentists in the NHS, and are working with the BDA on how best this investment should be used.’

Concluding her introductory speech, the health minister was optimistic. She said: ‘We have a commitment for providing patients and dentists with good oral health care, and by working together we must meet the
challenges ahead.’

First on stage to fire questions was Dr Julie Williams, who shook with adrenalin. She said: ‘I am a typical family dentist and I have a good relationship with my PCT, but if you are so keen to work together, why impose such a non-negotiable contract?’
Winterton said: ‘I’m glad you have a good relationship with your PCT, but what you need to do now is continue a dialogue at a local level to build this further, and I am hoping we can move on at a national level to build constructive relationships.’
Williams said: ‘You didn’t answer the question but I guess that’s as good as I’m going to get – so thank you very much.'

Dental practitioner, David McBrae was more direct. He said: ‘Can you explain the irrational communication with our profession and the ludicrous UDA system? You said 90% of dentists signed up to the contract, but you gave us only three weeks to sign it. Did you devise this on the back of a fag packet?’

Winterton complained saying: ‘Do you want me to answer all those questions or just one?’

She didn’t answer any of them, but acting CDO, Barry Cockcroft said: ‘We guaranteed that we would grow the NHS income and the PCT can’t break the contract - that’s very important - we certainly did not put this together on the back of a fag packet.’

He continued: ‘We have never refused to meet the BDA ever – indeed, in September 2004, Lester Ellman (chairman of the General Dental Practice Committee) said “we were very close to a workable deal.” ’

But another dentist from Salford was furious. He said: ‘All you’ve done is swapped pounds for points. You’re not producing a system to encourage prevention – you’ve produced a system that encourages neglect.’

Winterton responded: ‘Two things that are important to remember are that when we are spending £100m, it’s vital we give assurance on how the money is spent, and I am very keen that the preventative side of dentistry happens.

‘I accept that this is your view, but I am anxious that we have an open discussion to ensure this takes off.’

Salford’s GDP retorted: ‘But you haven’t listened to the profession! It doesn’t work!’

Another dentist asked Winterton why the profession was being assessed on the previous year. ‘We are being monitored on what we did in a previous year on a previous system – it cannot work.

‘If we spend more time with our patients, they would have better oral health, but there’s no way I would meet my UDAs.’
Cockcroft said: ‘We had to start from a historical position to guarantee dentists have a higher salary.’

The last question came from 25-year-old dentist, Ian Anderson. He asked the minister what she thought of the level of UK oral health compared to other countries. He said: ‘I’ve worked in
hospitals in Japan, Singapore and Malyasia, and I am very disappointed with the oral health in this country.

‘The NHS dental services are not on a par with other countries, so I’ve moved to private practice so I can give patients quality care.’

After whopping cheers from the audience died down, Winterton was clearly beaten, but she remained positive.

She said: ‘I know dentists have found the changes difficult, and I don’t like to hear that people received last minute contracts. This is why we said people can sign up so they get paid, with the opportunity to follow up discussions afterwards.

‘But we remain committed, and I do hope we can find stability with guaranteed salaries, and a ring-fenced budget for dentistry.’

 Posted on : Wed 7th - Jun - 2006

 

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