Defunct dental programme ‘key to access hike’

The Department of Health (DH) is applauding the success of the now defunct Dental Access Programme (DAP) which it says played a key role in boosting access figures.

The national Dental Access Programme ran from January 2009 to March 2011 and, during that time, the DH says the NHS achieved a ‘substantial two million increase in dental access for patients’.

It also cites the GP Patient Survey, published in March 2011, as an indication of success – this reported that of the 60% of adults nationally who tried to get an NHS dental appointment from January 2009 to December 2010, 93% were successful.

Some 96% were successful in the six months from July-December 2010.

At the time of its launch, Dr Mike Warburton, the mastermind behind the DAP, and chief dental officer, Bary Cockcroft, promised that they had taken on board the views of interested parties and key stakeholders, including the BDA and LDCs, those at grassroots level, local bidders and generally, a ‘broad range of providers’.

With the DAP now over, a new dental contract is being introduced and, for the first time, dentists will be paid for the quality of the treatment they give rather than the number of treatments provided.

Sixty two dental practices have been selected to trial this new dental contract that the DH hopes will help improve outcomes for patients – part of the coalition government’s wider plans to modernise the NHS.

The new contract will be based around capitation, registration and quality.

The DH says SHA dental leads will continue to support their PCTs during 2011-12 and will continue to review progress and monitor access.

It adds that PCTs will still be able to use the DAP resources for managing contracts and recall intervals, and get support from NHS Primary Care commissioning advisors.

A complete summary presentation of the Dental Access Programme is available here.

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