Searching for ‘the magic formula’

Scotland’s National Clinical Director describes dentistry’s funding dilemma

22 May, 2023 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

Finding a funding mechanism for dentistry remains a challenge, Professor Jason Leitch told delegates at the 2023 Scottish Dental Show.

Asked about the work that had begun before the pandemic to create a new model of care, he said: “Philosophically, that has not stalled.”

He added: “The trick is to find a formula, a funding mechanism, that will reward people doing it for a living and that doesn’t result in either over-treatment or under-treatment.

“If you pay ‘per widget’, the danger is that you get too many widgets. If you pay for just caring, you don’t get any widgets.”

Professor Leitch alluded to the formula which applies to general practitioners (GPs) where they receive a block of funding for caring for a geographically defined population, to keep them healthy, but are also paid for specific kinds of care – prescribing or cervical screening, for example.

“I don’t think anyone, worldwide, has – unless somebody can tell me otherwise – found that magic formula for dentistry,” he said.

Charlotte Waite, Director of the BDA in Scotland, asked Professor Leitch: “Looking to the future, what is the single most important lesson that has been learned which would be of most benefit to dental teams?”

He responded: “I hope it’s the importance, at every level, of the dental profession – teams, clinics – to the health of the nation.

“Dentistry stepped up; we’ve talked about the [establishment during the pandemic of the] urgent care centres but also, remember, the country was vaccinated with the help of the dental profession.”

A full report of the interview with Professor Leitch at the show will be in the next edition of Scottish Dental magazine published later this month.

Tags: Jason Leitch

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