Nigel Jones announces the launch of the latest NHS Confidence Monitor survey.

NHS and private dentists are being given the opportunity to have their say on how they feel about working within the profession. The latest NHS Confidence Monitor survey has been launched by Practice Plan in a bid to gain more understanding about dentists’ happiness levels around aspects of the way they work and their feelings about issues, such as litigation, GDC standards and dentistry as a core NHS service.

Have your say

The survey results are then shared with the profession in order to highlight the general mood of dentists and raise awareness of what’s most affecting dentists in 2018.

The more insight we can gain and disseminate among both those at grass-roots level and those in positions of authority, the more opportunity there is to stimulate debate and create transparency about how those at the coalface really feel.

Hearing first-hand from those on the frontline of dentistry provides the best source of information about the real experience of being a dentist right now. This data can then be used by the profession to support any calls for change in relation to the way they work.

As David Houston, joint practice principal of the Houston Group of dental practices and a previous member of the Insights Panel that debates each survey’s results, says:

‘In order for the profession to present a unified front when dealing with Government and to have a strong voice truly representative of the (often previously silent) majority, participation in the Confidence Monitor survey provides invaluable information about, and support for, the arguments we must put forward to the authorities to illustrate our concerns, the increasing pressures we face and the dissatisfaction we seek to have addressed.

‘I would respectfully urge colleagues to partake in this invaluable and extremely worthwhile exercise, which will ensure that Practice Plan and the panel members will champion the issues identified and seek to be of assistance in highlighting the needs and expectations of the dental profession wherever and whenever possible.’

Issues affecting dentists in 2018

Over the past year, since the last NHS Confidence Monitor survey was run, there have been many factors that may well have had an influence on the needs and expectations that David mentions.

To name but a few: the confirmation that the prototype programme will run for at least another two years; BDA research revealing that clawback increased by £30 million in just one year; the launch of the Oral Health Improvement Plan in Scotland; another increase in patient charges, and the decision of dental charities to set up temporary surgeries in the UK for those struggling to access an NHS dentist.

These issues will have undoubtedly had an impact on how dentists feel about their profession and this year’s survey will once again be asking how happy dentists feel about elements of their work, such as remuneration, the time to manage patient expectations, job satisfaction and the ability to achieve a good work/life balance.

NHS core service?

Last year the survey was filled in by more than 400 NHS and private dentists and revealed a deep divide in happiness levels.

The former overwhelmingly said they were unhappy in response to every question asked about their working life. In contrast, the vast majority of those working in private practice said they were happy.

Tracking the changes, or lack thereof, over the past 12 months will enable greater insight into whether the picture is improving, or not, for NHS dentists and private dentists, as well as gauging whether the happiness gap between the two sectors is widening or shrinking.

This is the sixth time the survey has been run since 2014, with adaptations to the questions asked to account for the evolving nature of dentistry and gain understanding into different areas.

Alongside these happiness questions, the latest Confidence Monitor will ask about support for the Government moving NHS to a core service for the vulnerable/emergencies, and how anxious dentists feel about the risk of complaints, litigation and meeting standards.

Summary

Whether this year’s survey results will reveal a vastly different picture remains to be seen, but the insight provided by the answers will illuminate the state of dentistry as it currently stands, the pace of change and dentists’ feelings about the future of the profession.

Once again, we will be looking to deepen the understanding provided by the results by holding an Insights Panel with experts later in the year and sharing that discussion with the profession.


For more information the latest Confidence Monitor survey is now live and can be filled in by visiting: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/confidencemonitor6.

To view the results of previous surveys, visit: www.nhsdentistryinsights.co.uk.