Reform of NHS payments welcomed by Faculty

01 November, 2023 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

Reform of the payment system for NHS dentistry, which comes into effect today, has been welcomed by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Faculty of Dental Surgery.

The former ‘item of service’ funding model, which emphasised treatment over prevention, is being replaced with a more streamlined approach.

This will mean, said the Faculty in a statement, that general dental practitioners (GDPs) in Scotland will be renumerated for aiding in the prevention of oral health issues, as well as treatment, “in a bid to tackle soaring waiting list backlogs within the NHS.”

This is the first major reform for dentistry in Scotland in decades

The system has been designed in line with current best practice guidance, including the regularity with which patients receive routine checkups, helping maintain and improve oral health across the board, the Faculty added.

Professor Grant McIntyre, Dean of the Faculty, which represents dentists across the UK and internationally, said: “This is the first major reform for dentistry in Scotland in decades and is welcomed.

“At present, a lot of patients presenting for dental appointments require repair work rather than prevention, which is not only costly for patients but also damaging to their oral and sometimes overall health.

“The historical item of service funding model for dentistry in Scotland placed inadequate value on disease prevention and focused almost exclusively on treatment. Now, rather than being paid solely for the treatment of dental diseases, GDPs will be renumerated for the prevention aspect, which will hugely benefit patients.”

Under the new system being introduced by the Scottish Government, the number of items of service payments for GDPs will be reduced from over 500 to 45, and the recall interval for checkups will be extended from six months to 12 months.

The Faculty is calling for other parts of the UK to follow suit in the changes which, it says, will support dentists to work in a system based on high trust and low bureaucracy, allowing them to use their clinical discretion in delivering an overall oral health promotion-based package of care.

Extension of the examination recall interval from six months to a year will allow scope for dentists to provide care for a greater proportion of the population, said the Faculty.

Professor McIntyre added: “Patient safety and health promotion is key to easing the huge pressure NHS dentistry is facing, and helping the patients who are suffering because of that.

“However, with only 50% of the adult population regularly attending their general dental practitioner, the Faculty would encourage the Scottish Government to work with the profession to educate the public on the need for regular examinations of the oral cavity by a dentist in order to identify the early signs of cancer in and around the mouth in addition to the other diseases that affect the oral cavity.

“The Faculty of Dental Surgery will be launching a new suite of Dental Diploma Examinations in 2024 which will provide recognition of expertise in seven key specific areas of dentistry for general dental practitioners.

“We would hope with further revisions to Determination 1, that the Scottish Government will recognise such additional clinical skills through further financial enhancements.”

Tags: dental / Faculty / Surgery

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