This is the second blog by Dr Michael Weider, Principal Dentist of the Maldent Dental Practice and Implant Centre. In his first blog published on this website, he dispelled some of the myths about the NHS dental services. In this blog, he is talking about the continuous multiple issues that NHS dental practices are facing and hence making it difficult for them to treat patients.
What’s changed since my last Blog…?
Well – unfortunately not much.
Dental practices are still working under reduced NHS capacity conditions with most practices maintaining the enhanced infection control regime to protect patients and staff. Many practices are experiencing staff absences due to the virus.
We are all working hard to service our regular patients and we try and accommodate emergencies. Inevitably the problem of access to NHS dentistry for new patients is still acutely problematic.
The problems that have surfaced in NHS dentistry during the pandemic highlight the underlying faults in the contracting arrangements of NHS Dentistry that the profession has been actively seeking to improve for many years.
As a dentist, it is clear that the present dental contract is – in the words of an MP only last week – ‘not fit for purpose’. This message is slowly getting through. It requires a root and branch overhaul taking into account modern-day preventive dentistry and less focus on target-driven activity.
The profession was working with the NHS in piloting new ways of working. All these pilots have just recently been scrapped, however – leaving those pioneering practices in the lurch.
Dentists are eager to provide an NHS service that is the envy of the world. We see dentistry as an important cog in the wheel of the holistic health of our patients but our hands are tied by the limits of the dental contract under which we work.
It’s time for a change.
Forums – like Healthwatch, like your local MP – can make a huge difference to drive change. Our Local Dental Committee in Camden is spearheading a campaign to communicate this message of change and welcome all feedback.
Write to Healthwatch. Write to your local MP. Together we will try a bring dentistry post-pandemic to the 21st century.
We at Healthwatch Camden have been receiving numerous phone calls and emails on the challenges faced by the residents in accessing NHS dental practices. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are having similar issues.