NHS dentistry
The latest NHS Confidence Monitor has called for greater support for dental professionals from the government and GDC

NHS dentistry should be conveyed more positively in the national press, according to the latest NHS Confidence Monitor survey results.

Dental professionals feel that more positive messages would help to improve the public’s perception and understanding of NHS dentistry and more than half of the respondents had ideas on how to improve the profession’s confidence in NHS dentistry.

‘What we have is a profession that feels the NHS contract is out of their hands, so I was not surprised to learn that dental professionals are concerned about public perception of NHS dentistry and their role within it, but it nonetheless saddens me,’ Tony Kilcoyne, dentist and practice owner, said.

‘As a dentist who is very involved with the media, I want to help to turn things around in terms of informing the public about not only just the problems in dentistry but also what dentistry has to offer the public with regard to general and dental health benefits.

‘We need to go large in the media so that the public can realistically appreciate what their options are and what can be done, preventively.’

Greater support

The NHS Confidence Monitor has called for greater support from the government and the GDC by better understanding what the dental profession is facing.

A third of respondents counted greater support from the regulator and the government as significant elements to improve the confidence between dental professionals.

The rest of the main findings from the survey included:

  • 90% of team members are less confident in the future of NHS dentistry overall than they were 12 months earlier
  • 84% of dental professionals are less confident about their career prospects within NHS dentistry than they were a year ago
  • 78% are worried about their ability to offer their patients the right balance of treatment versus prevention in times to come under the NHS
  • 88% have lost confidence that working within NHS dentistry will offer a fair level of remuneration in the future
  • 86% expressed concern that they will be able to work effectively within the NHS framework as time progresses
  • 76% are lacking confidence that patients will be happy with the outcome of attending an NHS dental practice in the future, when compared to 12 months earlier
  • 49% of dentists are looking to retire between the ages of 51 to 60, with a further 32% making plans to leave dentistry behind in their 60s
  • 69% of dental professionals would not recommend a career in dentistry to a friend or family member.

‘It is sad that public perception of the dental profession is negatively influenced by the ways in which contract restrictions adversely affect the care the dental team can provide to NHS patients,’ Professor Nairn Wilson, former president of the General Dental Council and British Dental Association, said.

‘I share the view that, despite being disillusioned, members of the dental team have a passion and unswerving belief in the effectiveness and importance of the oral healthcare provision they are capable of delivering.’

For detailed results from the last three surveys, as well as to gain access to the discussions from previous ‘Insights Panel’ meetings and interviews with panel members, visit www.nhsdentistryinsights.co.uk.