Red tape hits dentists’ morale

Growing bureaucracy is destroying the morale of high street dentists – and could be driving experienced practitioners to retire early or leave the NHS, the British Dental Association (BDA) warns.

According to BDA research, excessive administration is the primary factor behind a downturn in dentists’ confidence.

The BDA fears that could be driving many experienced practitioners to consider early retirement.

Nearly half of all high street dentists are reporting that their morale has fallen during the past 12 months, with a third reporting in a BDA survey that their morale is now either low or very low.

More than 60% of those surveyed said that growing administration was to blame for the decline in morale.

Rising expenses and continuing problems with the 2006 dental contract, including a lack of time to provide preventive care to patients, were also cited as major factors in the declining confidence of the profession.

More than 10% of dentists aged 55 and over are already leaving the NHS each year.

The BDA is concerned that adding a further layer of bureaucracy which comes into force in 2011, the registration of dental practices with the Care Quality Commission, could exacerbate the problems that are already being seen and drive many dentists to retire early.

This would be a serious concern both because it could affect patients’ ability to access dental care and because it would deprive dentistry of a generation of highly experienced dentists.

John Milne, Chair of the BDA’s general dental practice committee, said: ‘Morale amongst family dentists in England is becoming a real problem. My fear is that many of our most experienced practitioners, the dentists that families have relied on for generations, could feel so wrapped up in red tape that they simply choose to walk away. That would be a disaster.

‘The Government is taking steps to address the problematic contract that was introduced in 2006 and we are looking forward to an announcement of how new arrangements will be developed. But it’s also clear that red tape is becoming a major issue, with CQC registration a real concern for dentists. If the new contract is to be a success the Government must look at this carefully, untangle the red tape and free dentists to do what they are trained for: care for patients.”

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