The challenge

Ensure the new model for NHS dentistry works for the profession

08 December, 2023 / editorial
 Gerard Boyle  

The new SDR is the most radical change to primary care NHS dentistry since the 1990 contract, which introduced capitation and continuing care for the first time.

Since then, we have seen the addition of allowances into the mix, resulting in a package of remuneration today which is comprised of about 60 per cent item of service, almost 25 per cent capitation, and the remainder paid in allowances.

This first phase of dental reform is ambitious in its scope, introducing a completely new, simplified SDR, through which the Scottish Government hopes to deliver a system which is much lighter on bureaucracy, enabling a prescribing culture based on trust, where the clinician is freer to deliver whatever care that they deem appropriate.

However, having worked within the governance structures of NHS Boards and Practitioner Services for several years, while this lighter touch is fair for the majority of practitioners, for the small cohort of our profession who regularly appear on our radar, it carries some risk.

Our governance is focused mainly on Prior Approval at the pre-treatment stage, and on DRO examinations post-treatment. Through this, we have safeguards to ensure treatment is appropriate, in compliance with the GDS Regulations and the SDR and that it is carried out with proper skill and attention.

How we now focus these resources will be a challenge for us going into 2024.

The timescale for this first phase of dental reform has been tight and the targets faced by Practitioner Services have been considerable, ensuring our personnel and our systems are ready 

to receive and process Prior Approval submissions and claims for payment for 1 November.

But we have delivered on time, and within the specification the Scottish Government requested. There have been some ‘teething problems’ with all of the practice management systems suppliers, as we expected, and it is clear this new SDR will require some refinement over the next few months.

However, we are committed to working closely with the Scottish Government to help ensure the new model for NHS dentistry works for the profession and continues to deliver a high standard of care to patients.

Gerard Boyle is Senior Dental Adviser at Practitioner Services

Tags: Dentistry / Government / New Model / NHS / reform / scottish

Categories: Feature / Magazine

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