Practice cannot increase the number of hours they are open, or increase shifts, if it will result in dentists not being able to concentrate, Alun Rees says.

I read that some new NHS contracts expect practices to offer appointments from 8am to 8pm, 365 days a year.

That’s it then, access problem solved.

It’s off the Department of Health’s desk and into the overfilled basket of the professional.

No doubt this move was driven by the mantra that the patient (sorry, service user) is increasingly a consumer and in order to succeed we must pander to their every whim.

The chairman of the GDC, Bill Moyes, said during the Pendlebury Lecture in 2014: ‘Dentists should be more like supermarkets and design services around the needs of the patients’.

Dr Moyes is confusing needs and wants.

A two-way street

The vast majority of dental care is elective and non-urgent, thankfully.

To have appropriate treatment is a need, being able to choose where and particularly when is a want.

Who will staff these practices?

The profession is already facing challenges from stress and subsequent burnout.

Increasing hours by introducing shifts will only add to this.

Any professional service is a two-way street.

You can’t serve people properly if you’re knackered.

The law controls the time that pilots and commercial drivers, amongst others, spend working.

Yet medics and dentists are expected to be at the very top of their game night and day.

Dentistry demands concentration, focus and clear thinking.

A vital element for good performance is recovery time.

If these are not in place then you will eventually become neither effective nor efficient.

The time pressures can and often do lead to other mental pressures.

The temptation to cut corners, to say ‘that will have to do, that’s good enough’ can result as the first step on a very slippery slope – for some.

It’s possible to undo bad dentistry, but not bad ethical judgements.

Your time, your life, your choice.


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