One year after introduction of controversial dental reforms, patients are losing out, says the British Dental Association (BDA).
The most radical shake-up in NHS dentistry for over 50 years has failed to achieve the Government’s own stated aims for its reform programme.
Research undertaken by the BDA shows that the changes have not improved patient access to NHS dentistry, or encouraged a more preventive approach to dental care.
Early findings of the research show that 85 per cent of dentists believe that the new contract has not improved access to NHS dentistry for patients. Ninety-three per cent of those surveyed feel that the new system does not encourage a more preventive approach to care.
The research also shows that dentists’ confidence in the future of NHS dentistry has fallen dramatically. Ninety-five per cent of respondents said that they were now less confident about the future of NHS dentistry than was the case two years ago.
At a special BDA conference to mark the first anniversary of the new contract for dentists, Susie Sanderson, Chair of the BDA’s Executive Board, calls for immediate action from the Department of Health to tackle the most significant problems with the new arrangements.
Dr Sanderson says: ”When the Government is failing to meet even its own success criteria for the new contract, then it’s time for urgent action. We now have a reductive, target-driven system that is failing both patients and dentists. The future of NHS dentistry is becoming increasingly fragile and we need action now before it shatters altogether.”
The BDA research was carried out in February and March 2007 and is based on a survey of 1,500 dentists in England and Wales. The BDA is the professional association for dentists in the UK. It represents over 20,000 dentists.