Longer lists for NHS dentists
 

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Longer lists for NHS dentists

 

Longer lists for NHS dentists

The health minister is ‘absolutely clear’ that dentists who decide to sign the new contract will increase their lists to take on the children set to lose out on free dental treatment from other dentists choosing to go private.

Speaking exclusively to Dentistry magazine last week, Rosie Winterton was as positive as ever. She said: ‘If PCTs think it’s okay to offer child-only lists then they can offer that, but if PCTs say no, then we know there are other dentists who will take them on.’

She added: ‘All the early indications suggest that most dentists will sign up to the new contract. We are extremely encouraged how PCTs are planning for a much more integrated service with a view to improving the oral health of the nation.’

The Minister’s views vastly contradict the results of a recent PCT survey however, which found that thousands of practitioners are likely to reject the contract offered by the Government.

The Sunday Times survey of 29 primary care trusts (PCTs) found that 133,000 patients have been told they will no longer receive NHS treatment from their dentists after the end of this month.
If the pattern is reflected across the country, about 830,000 adults and half a million children will lose out on NHS treatment. The PCTs have admitted that thousands of children will be hit. Some PCTs have already written to patients warning them that from April 1, both adults and children will be obliged to find another dentist unless they are prepared to pay for treatment or buy insurance.

But Andrea Goring, dental development officer for Lambeth and Lewisham PCT welcomes the changes. She said: ‘Change was needed because the old contract didn’t deliver prevention and it was
uncontrollable. I am very enthusiastic about the changes even though some practitioners are not happy with them.’

All except two dentists have signed the contract for the area, with the PCT allowing ‘a couple’ of practices to treat children only.

‘They have signed a normal contract but they cannot take on children as patients on the condition that their parent is being treated privately,’ stressed Goring. She continued: ‘There are concerns with how patients are reacting to the increases in charges, such as £42 for one filling, but if a patient needs eight fillings then it is good value.’

On the subject of financial plans post 2009, Goring said: ‘The money may be ring-fenced for three years but we will be revisiting it on a continuous basis – the PCT is committed to 2009 and after.’

Winterton was reticent when discussing dental funds. She said: ‘We can’t give a commitment after 2009, but PCTs will have a duty of looking after oral needs.’

She continued: ‘We understand there are dentists who have concerns, but we will look at how it’s bedding in with an open discussion with patients and NHS representatives so we can monitor the new reforms.’

The Health Minister is convinced the changes will be ‘a much better way of working for dentists, that will also benefit patients.’ She said: ‘After five years of pilot schemes and in response to dentists’ complaints of the drill and fill, they can now have a much more holistic view of patients, with more time between recall.

She added: ‘It’s important we are able to measure activity that actually delivers an improved service to dentists – there is much mis-information with the new system and we are very pleased that PCTs have headed the task very well.’

Earlier this week a Daily Mail survey estimated that seven in ten dentists are considering leaving the NHS in protest at the new contract, and in some parts of the country every single dentist has refused to sign up to the new system.

 Posted on : Fri 31st - Mar - 2006

 

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