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Big changes proposed for NHS dentistry in Scotland - how will it affect you?

Blog Author Phil Grigor

Blog Date 17/04/2018

grandad-child-650px.jpgThe Scottish Government’s Oral Health Improvement Plan (OHIP), published in January this year, represents the biggest proposed changes to NHS dentistry in Scotland for decades. 

The plan includes eight main themes, many of which resonate with BDA policies and priorities: a focus on prevention; reducing oral health inequalities; meeting the needs of an ageing population; the high street services; patient information; quality assurance and improvement; workforce; and finance.

We think the plan has significant implications for dentists and dental practices in Scotland and we’d like to hear your thoughts on how it might impact on you, so we can take your views to the Scottish Government. 

What is the plan proposing?

The plan covers a number of strategies, aimed at providing a ‘…strategic framework for improving the oral health of the next generation.’

Although it includes the introduction of an Oral Health Risk Assessment for adults, it suggests a reduced frequency of dental checks for some patients, and a proposed reduction in scale and polishes.

We believe these, and some of the other proposals may impact on patient care and the financial viability of dental practices, and we are seeking more information on the evidence-base for these proposals. 

We know that real prevention requires sufficient investment in the service over a sustained period of time, and – with no indication of any new funding – these measures feel like trying to fit a square peg in round hole, rather than a real focus on prevention. 

The plan recognises the projected significant growth in the number of older people in Scotland, and proposes an increased role for GDPs in care homes and for older people in their own homes. 

We believe this will mean a considerable change for both the GDS and PDS. 

However, beyond using the usual policy-speak of ‘joined-up approaches’ to tackling the healthcare challenges an ageing population presents, we think the document is lacking in detail on how these patients will be appropriately cared for by their dentist. 

Similarly, the plan proposes allowing “accredited” GDPs to carry out certain procedures, such as oral surgery, in a primary care setting, rather than (inappropriate) referral to Hospital Dental Services. Again, this has significant implications for both the GDS and HDS, and we need more detail of how these new arrangements will be implemented and will work in practice.

The plan sets out a range of proposed changes to both the Statement of Dental Remuneration (SDR) and payments to GDPs and dental practices. 

Although the plan states that the Scottish Government intends to maintain the financial stability of the GDS, the plan lacks detail on what these changes will involve, and the timescales for any changes. 

What can you do?

We need to hear your views on these proposals, it’s important that we can highlight the situation for dentists working on the frontline, and the challenges you currently face, as well as the impact proposals like this may have on the future of the dental service. 

Please take a few moments to add your views to our survey, before Friday 4 May.

Phil Grigor

BDA Scotland Director

BDA Scotland - working for you

BDA Scotland supports, represents and promotes, the interests of all dentists working in Scotland. Working with elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, pay and contracts and the issues facing dentists in all settings. Join us