Hotting up

There is no shortage of significant paperwork to read on your summer holidays – if, indeed, you are taking any this year. Hard on the heels of HTM 01-05 comes the Review of NHS Dental Services in England, and I have taken a copy off my (extensive) reading pile to look through.
There are certainly sensible suggestions here to address the ‘main factor of dissatisfaction’ – namely the current contract. In particular, the recommendation that this time there will be ‘no sudden changes’ and careful modelling of new contractual approaches is salutary.

A ‘patient gateway’ to NHS services through an ‘initial oral health assessment’ – proposed to ensure that prevention is the primary aim of dental care – is also essential. As is the comment that the current method of remuneration is, in some cases, adversely affecting treatment
decisions. And ‘clinical pathways’ to ensure the promotion of appropriate, evidence-based care. Excellent.

Better IT services and availability – an ‘effective information infrastructure’ will ensure that data is collected and shared. This will also enable the ‘monitoring of clinical quality’. Great.

PCTs will have correctly devolved funding to ensure that both independent contractors and salaried services can function to satisfy local needs, as determined by individual assessments. Absolutely.

Development of services using the skills of the entire dental team as well as specialist dentists makes good professional and financial sense. Another excellent point. In short, patients will have much better information on the quality and availability they can expect from NHS dental services. What everyone’s been saying.

But hang on – I’ve just realised that in my haste I’ve picked up the wrong document. This one’s called Options for Change and it’s dated August 2002.

Memo to self – cull reading pile more often. And reflect on how much (or how little) has changed in seven years.

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