‘Trust dentists and let them get on and do their jobs’

shutterstock_227475820Michael Watson reports from the Westminster Health Forum in his latest blog.

Once a year I am sent an invitation to the Westminster Health Forum, which runs a seminar on dentistry.

The forum is a place where policymakers in Parliament, Whitehall and government agencies can listen to key people within the dental world and discuss the issues of the day.

The topic of last week’s seminar was: ‘Priorities in dentistry, prototype practices, regulation and dental contract reform’.

Last week’s seminar opened with a powerful presentation by BDA chairman, Mick Armstrong.

He told the Government to trust dentists and let them ‘get on and do their jobs without the shadow of oppressive regulation and the current culture of fear’.

I have never known morale in the profession to be so low and to the concerns voiced by Dr Armstrong I would add uncertainty, both now and for the future.


The regulators were at the seminar in the form of John Milne, from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Evlynne Gilvarry, chief executive of the General Dental Council (GDC).

John, still a practising dentist, sought to reassure the audience that the CQC had learned from its past mistakes and wanted to celebrate good practice.

No such reassurance came from Ms Gilvarry; the GDC was faced with a growing number of complaints about dentists and it was doing its best to deal with them in an outdated legislative framework.

NHS contract

A major cause for uncertainty and anxiety is the slow progress towards reform of the NHS contract.

In nine months’ time the contract, which is almost universally disliked, will be 10 years old, and it will be another four years at least before this autumn’s prototypes might be rolled out.

The seminar gave the profession no certainty about what awaits them, although some speakers gave glimpses about what might be ahead.

It will be based on prevention and the clinical pathway approach of the pilots; access and more access is what the Government wants to see; dentists will need to acquire more advanced skills, while dental care professionals take care of the less complex care.

The idea was floated that, far from being a broken contract, the Government regards the UDA system as delivering the goods and getting patients seen.

It seems there is uncertainty about whether the powers that be are really that keen on change.


  1. 1

    4 more years of pilots?
    Sorry, just ROFL-ing. It is with the biggest sense of relief that our practice said ‘thanks but no thanks’ to Bazza et al’s dogs breakfast of a Nectar Point system.
    I think we will have to organise a bit of a party in 2016 to celebrate 10 years free from the farce which is NHS ‘dentistry’.

  2. 2

    Dentists acquiring more complex skills is fine but the NHS contract will unlikely remunerate them appropriately for it.

    What’s the point of getting better at endo when the contract pays you peanuts for it and equates it to extracting and providing a denture. Why improve your denture skills when the labwork you get for NHS partials and fulls is a laughing stock anyway.

    What’s likely going to happen is dcps taking all this work from us and doing it on the cheap. We’re already paid like dcps so why not just replace us altogether?

  3. 3

    Wish I could wave bye bye as well but unless work in a particularly affluent area or city centre you’re stuck in the NHS. Patients won’t pay for private general family dentistry anymore when they can get treated by the guy up the road for a third of the price.
    They’re constantly being brainwashed by papers and politicians that the NHS is world class and if you want to charge someone privately you’re a greedy dentist driving a roller. Even which? who are supposed to be impartial were at it just a few weeks ago

    The future is grim unless dentists as a collective turn their backs on the nhs system.

  4. 4

    No1 No! NO!
    We are in North-East England. OK, so we were well established before the 2006 5h17-storm. But even so, anyone competent and decent will survive. The brighter ones stay with us. Most amusing of all are the buffoons who leave (and tell Denplan ‘left owing to value for money’!!!), THEN experience the full UDA-factory ‘service’ and crawl back. No discounts for them….. LOL….

  5. 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Might Also Like