Watchdog created to oversee the changes
 

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Watchdog created to oversee the changes

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Watchdog created to oversee the changes

 

Watchdog created to oversee the changes

The Health Minister is to set up a national implementation group of dentists, patients and NHS representatives in a bid to ensure new dental changes will be successful.

The implementation group should include representatives from the British Dental Association (BDA), Consumers Association, Citizens Advice Bureau, British Orthodontic Society, Dental Laboratories Association, the NHS's Dental Practice Division, a Strategic Health Authority and a Primary Care Trust.

The group, chaired by acting chief dental officer Barry Cockcroft will study the reforms and report whether or not they are ‘delivering their intended benefits for patients and for the dental profession.’

It will look at high-profile issues including the impact of PCT's commissioning dental care services, the new contracts for dentists, and the new system of patients' charges.

Rosie Winterton said: ‘We are confident that these reforms will improve services for patients and make the NHS a more attractive place to work for dentists. I know some people are anxious about the impact of the changes so we are setting up an implementation group to review the impact of the reforms.

‘This will give us an opportunity to work together and use these reforms to put NHS dentistry on a proper footing.’

Under the current system, dentists charge a fee for every filling, extraction and item of treatment, with no incentive to carry out preventive care. But the new contract, set to come into force next month, will introduce three fee bands of £15, £42.50 and £183, with a view to discourage dentists from a ‘drill and fill’ mentality.

Fears have been raised that thousands of dentists will desert the NHS and open private practices to safeguard against a plunge in income and to offer patients better standards of treatment.
But the Government insists that for the first time PCTs will have local control of budgets for dentistry, meaning it can buy in replacement services if a dentist leaves the NHS.

Ministers claim the new contracts will give dentists the security of a guaranteed annual NHS income, average £80,000, in return for carrying out 5% fewer courses of treatment.

And the new charging regime will make it easier for patients to understand what treatment is proposed and what it will cost.

Lester Ellman, chair of the BDA’s general dental practice committee said: ‘We believe the reforms are flawed and that the way they are being introduced is causing confusion and uncertainty for patients and dentists. We’ve got our hands full advising dentists who are worried sick about the future and we have yet to make a decision on joining this group.’

 Posted on : Tue 14th - Mar - 2006

 

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