NICE ‘happy to consider’ dental decontamination

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has confirmed that it would be happy to consider a review of the evidence base for decontamination in dental practice.

The confirmation came in a letter from NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon to BDA executive board chair Susie Sanderson this week, following the BDA’s earlier call for such an independent assessment to take place.

However, the letter also stresses that NICE is only able to develop clinical practice guidance if commissioned by the Department of Health and underlines the chief dental officer’s opinion that such a review is neither necessary nor appropriate.

Earlier this month, chief dental officer Barry Cockcroft said the Department of Health would not be seeking NICE guidance on the HTM 01-05 decontamination guidelines for dental surgeries, despite calls to do so from an outraged BDA.

Chief dental officer Barry Cockcroft told www.dentistry.co.uk that, because hygiene regulations change with new scientific evidence, the document was not best suited to NICE assessment, while promising: ‘I have made a commitment to review this guidance within the next two years to reflect emerging evidence.’

However, the British Dental Association (BDA) claims there is a need for clarity and says NICE would be the most appropriate body to carry out an evaluation.

The memorandum was first published on the DoH website in October 2008 and it’s hoped will ‘progressively raise the quality of decontamination within the primary care sector, giving options in terms of approach’.

The aim is that, initially, all practices will have to meet the HTM’s ‘essential quality requirements’ within a year of receiving the guidance, but ultimately practices will need to move towards best practice in time.

The guidance is being sent out to practices with Dr Cockcroft acknowledging that it is difficult to set a timescale for practices to become fully compliant.

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