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Open letter slams NHS dentistry

Dentists have sent an open letter to The Telegraph daily newspaper slamming NHS dentistry.

In the letter [found here], signed by a plethora of dental VIPs and opinion leaders and headed by Tony Kilcoyne, NHS dentistry frailties are exposed. The letter questions government statistics and says that 'nearly half of all adults walk around with deep gum problems in their mouths.'

Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer at the department of health was quick to comment saying: 'The improvement in oral health in this country over the last 30 years is something that the dental profession and the NHS should rightly be proud of. There is no credible evidence to support the suggestion that there is a "growing disaster" in NHS dentistry.

'Public Health England data, published in September, showed high levels of improvement in children's dental health. Between 2008 and 2012 the numbers of five year old children who were decay free increased by approximately 10% and access to NHS dentistry has increased by over 1.2 million since 2010. However we are not complacent, NHS England and the Department of Health are currently piloting new contractual arrangements for NHS dentistry, which will reward improving outcomes rather than just activity.

'Charges for NHS dentistry is not a recent thing. Patient charges for dentistry have been in place since 1951, however children and approximately 30% of adults are exempt from charges.

'Since 2000 dentists have not been able to administer general anaesthesia for tooth extractions in primary care. Elective general anaesthetics have to be carried out in hospital.'

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Very Sadly it looks like the usual Spin. Are we really so desperate as to blame events in the year 2000 as we enter 2014 ??? Are we still blaming the Millenium bug then? Sadly the English Dental DH appears stuck in Denial and until such direct public honesty and full transparency changes for the better, then one fears NHS Dentistry in England is just doomed to 'variations' of the same old flawed approaches and delay tactics that end up in a bad fudge, rather than actually IMPROVE their flawed systems for patients. So can the English Dental DH start their road to better ways in 2014, by admitting these two truths publicly: 1. The NHS Dentistry System in England cannot possibly provide for ALL the clinical needs of ALL their population fully. 2. The NHS Dentistry System in England cannot possibly provide ALL clinical care & treatments to the highest standards available, for all their Population too. Of course the above two points can be freely admitted, whilst also recognising that dental teams do their very best within the 'limited systems' they find themselves working within, on a National scale, with some excellent examples of care being evident in some cases. But they are NOT the SAME and there is NO SHAME in admitting these basic truths from a 'limited' system, is there? Will Ministers and the English Dental DH now have the courage to admit these obvious truths publicly, or will they default to more Spin and Excuses instead? Dear Dentistry, could you please ask them these clear questions that require clear answers. True progress cannot happen properly, without addressing these basic truths publicly IMHO. It's our professional duty of Candour to raise concerns publicly, question dubious claims or misleading statistics qualitatively and reveal the whole truth about limitations, in the public interest overall. I look forward to reading the response you get to the above questions. Yours still concerned, Anthony Kilcoyne.
Well we didn't really expect anything else from BC but many of us hope that this letter will spark a greater, more vociferous debate about the future of dentistry in the UK. Our patients need to come first and given the amount of money available for NHS dentistry (and even that could come under pressure because of the current economic climate and cash crisis in mainstream NHS) we need to ask what can realistically be delivered for that amount of money. The future of the younger generation of the dental profession who have inherited a worsening NHS system is at stake. Simon
Dear Dentistry.co.uk , Have you asked the English Dental DH or Ministers those 2 pertinent questions in the public interest? Can you please publish their 'pertinent' answers, but emphasising we want CLARITY, not more Spin. Or has it all gone very quiet over there ....... ? Yours Clearly, Anthony Kilcoyne.
Dear Anthony, It has gone quiet, but not eerily quiet, in Whitehall. To be honest www.dentistry.co.uk is eagerly awaiting publication of findings from the pilots with those juicy statistics included. After 18 months, the pilots should be at a stage where they are practically the real deal and spin is easier to spot when hidden behind or within statistics.
Dear Seb, My understanding is that the English Dental DH have already said many of the established Pilots have flawed unreliable data and indeed they have ONLY just recruited for further Pilots a year ago, which didn't even start until after last easter, so what does that tell you ??? We ALL know more Time with patients = better Quality generally, but also lower Access figures and lower NHS patient charges, which sadly the Treasury simply wouldn't tolerate, so as usual we end up with compromise and fudges masquerading as progress or improvement and pretending everything is well. It isn't !!! How do I know - we've seen all this up to 2005 in 'Options for Change' in the Pilots of PDS back then, which patients liked because they got more time/quality/attention/prevention etc, Dentists and their teams liked because they got protected TIME and no silly Targets to chase, so if a molar Endo took 2 hours to do well, they could now do this and other 'quality' initiatives. So can you believe they had a system that both Patients and the Profession were happy with, that spent the time needed to do good quality dental care and wider prevention too - so what went horribly wrong??? The English Dental DH went horribly wrong, abandoned all the years of work and progress and unilaterally imposed a TOTALLY experimental UDA Targets system upon everyone instead, with 'a take it or leave it' Ultimatum to Dental practices, in some cases they not seeing that new Contract until within 7 days of them being unilaterally removed from NHS provision forever! That's THE problem, a very LOW trust environment fuelled by past English Dental DH behaviours and Target-based experiments which have received widespread condemnation for their negative effects Nationally :( Now we have again the English Dental DH in Denial that there are serious problems and Pilots constantly being changed and Manipulated and ironically, probably a significant number of them being told they are 'under-performing' come the 1st April deadline by not doing enough UDA targets BECAUSE they are spending more TIME doing more Quality care and more PREVENTION, but collecting less patient charges too - so will they be PUNISHED for delivering more Quality on the NHS ??? Past Modem Operandi of the English Dental DH and their lack of public transparency, suggests we are heading for another Double-Cross that is NOT in the public interest. It is this our DUTY of CANDOUR to raise concerns about such questionable behaviour, then and now, in the Public interest overall. So PLEASE Dentistry.co.uk, don't take silence for an answer - ask those two pertinent questions and if you DON'T get an answer, please publish they refused to furnish an answer. They are Public Servants afterall !!! Yours still concerned, Anthony Kilcoyne.
Dear Anthony, We will follow this up for you.
Many thanks - please don't take 'no comment' for an answer or 'grandstanding' where they give an answer that doesn't answer the two simple questions clearly. Tell them this is a Public interest matter and well as professional interest matter and they are afterall PUBLIC SERVANTS and shouldn't shirk such important,clear answers that are complete & accurate! Please let us know what they say or if you are feeling fobbed-off at all. Yours thankfully, Anthony Kilcoyne
Dear Seb and Dentistry.co.uk , It is now Tuesday 7th Jan at 3.30pm in the afternoon and STILL no English DH reply to the two basic question put above ? Can you confirm you have ASKED those 2 questions please. Can you confirm you have had no answers from the English DH ? They are two simple questions, even a Yes or No will do. Also the English DH under the guise of NHS England have a whole MEDIA dept, so they should be able to answer questions in minutes/hours surely, so why all the silence now? Can you please use your Journalistic talents to press for these questions being answered, as a matter of urgency now? If you have, but still haven't had a response having asked the DH twice or more - again PLEASE let us know on here - that is important for all to know too. Yours patiently............ Tony Kilcoyne.