Almost half of dental professionals working within the NHS (44%) are ‘less confident’ that working under the NHS will offer the right balance of treatment versus prevention over the next 12 months than they were a year ago, according to an independent study conducted on behalf of Practice Plan.
Despite this worrying statistic, 61% of respondents were as confident that patients will be happy with the outcome of attending an NHS dental practice over the next 12 months as they were in the previous 12 months.
Smaller practices also appear to have concerns about their future financial success within NHS dentistry.
The study reports that 65% of practices consisting of up to three dentists are losing confidence that practising dentistry within the NHS will offer an appropriate level of remuneration over the next 12 months, which is considerably higher than the percentage of respondents across all practice sizes (54%), who felt the same.
In addition, 39% of the respondents asked are less confident about their career prospects within NHS dentistry over the next 12 months than they were a year ago.
These figures are of particular interest in light of the potential for change within NHS dentistry over the next 12 months and beyond.
Speaking about the results, Practice Plan’s sales director, Nigel Jones, commented: ‘The idea behind this survey is to gather information that will help us support NHS dentists in making sense of the contract reforms and their professional future.
‘Our hope is that the results of the NHS Confidence Survey and our supporting work in this field, such as our up and coming NHS Dentistry Insights Panel, will help to provide some additional understanding and support at this crucial time.
‘This panel will meet at regular intervals throughout the year to discuss the results of the NHS Confidence Survey, the outcome of which will be shared with the dental profession.’
The Department of Health recently announced that prototypes of a reformed contract will start later this year, with practices testing a possible new system in its entirety.
The aim of this NHS Confidence Survey, comprising 80 telephone interviews with a range of practices offering NHS treatments to adult patients, was to gain insight into the confidence levels in NHS dentistry over the coming 12 months.
This means that as time moves on and the selected prototype practices reveal their thoughts and findings on the system, the NHS Confidence Survey, which is scheduled to be carried out at regular intervals during this time of change, will help to provide a snapshot of the general consensus within the dental profession.
What’s more, each NHS Confidence Survey will be followed up with a gathering of key opinion leaders, to explore the results in greater depth and place them in context, and then share their views with dental professionals throughout the UK.