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Changes to dentistry cause problems for patients and dentists
Placed by : Dental News Worldwide 16-12-2010
By http://www.telegraph.co.uk - The changes that were implemented to dentistry in England in 2006 have created problems for dentists and patients alike.
They created a target-driven contract that, rather than getting away from what was widely regarded as the treadmill of the previous arrangements, simply replaced it with a new one.
Dentists moved from a system that encouraged treatment rather than prevention, to one that required them to meet an annual target for the number of courses of treatment they delivered and still didnít help them provide preventive care. Patients, not targets, should be at the centre of health care systems, and this change did not make that happen.
The 2006 reforms also broke the formal system of patient registration that had existed for years. The old system gave patients a real sense of having their own dentist, and it meant that practitioners were familiar with their patientsí needs and could provide appropriate advice to them on an individual basis. That kind of continuing care relationship can really help dentists deliver, and patients receive, the best and most appropriate care.
The way that the system was designed also appeared, in some circumstances, to discourage patients from seeking appropriate treatment.
The creation of treatment bands, where patients are asked to pay for courses of treatment, for instance, means that a patient having one filling as a course of treatment pays the same fee as a patient having six fillings as part of a single course of treatment. That might appeal very superficially to the money-saving patient, but delaying treatment and allowing your teeth to deteriorate on economic grounds is not good for your health.
More than anything, though, the reforms and the way they were implemented damaged NHS dentistry in England, leading to huge numbers of patients losing access to care in the years after they were introduced. It is crucial that these reforms, and the way the transition to them is managed, are more successful.
Dr Susie Sanderson is Chair of the British Dental Association Executive Board.