BDA demands ‘passionate debate’

The British Dental Association’s Susie Sanderson has called for an honest and passionate debate about the impact of the 2006 reforms to NHS dentistry in England and Wales.

At a Westminster Health Forum seminar, The changing face of dentistry, Dr Sanderson, the BDA’s executive board chair, called for the passion of the profession to be brought back into the debate about the future of NHS dentistry.

Addressing an audience of politicians and other opinion formers, Dr Sanderson highlighted the BDA’s warning that the imposition of units of dental activity would result in the creation of a reductive, target-driven system.

Citing the London Assembly’s recent call for the Department of Health to revise the new contract so that preventive care was encouraged, she also noted that the administration in Northern Ireland, where reform will be undertaken shortly, had already said that they would not use UDAs as a performance measure.

Summarising the disappointment felt by dentists across England and Wales, Dr Sanderson said: ‘There’s frustration of unfair pressure and being driven down a direction that is not right – not right for the profession, not right for patients and not right for the oral health of the nation.’

Concluding, Dr Sanderson pointed the way forward to a new agenda around patient-focused dentistry, but warned that: ‘We’ll only get there if we are allowed to engage in an open and honest debate with government about all aspects of the current situation and the impact of the radical reforms of the past year-and-a-half.’

Dr Sanderson’s speech also renewed the BDA’s calls for the use of a flexible range of performance indicators rather than reliance on UDAs and for primary care trusts to receive their dental commissioning budget in full. She also warned of the importance of ensuring PCTs had the expertise to undertake effective commissioning in the face of savage raids on public health budgets.

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