Dental practices to join NHS Pilot Scheme
Joining in an NHS Pilot Scheme, 29 new practices have been shortlisted by the Department of Health adding to the 70 practices already selected for the scheme.
The new additions will help to show how different elements involved work to improve dental care nationwide.
Practices involved in the scheme have been using new innovations in dental care techniques and are closely focusing on preventative care. This includes the way that adults and children use a toothbrush.
Included in the new dental care techniques is a traffic light system aimed at helping patients to improve their own oral health. When patients visit the dentist for a routine check up they will be awarded a colour based on their oral health. From here, a treatment method will be suggested for patients to follow on from the check up. Dentists will offer advice to patients that should aid in their long term oral health.
Work will be done which will develop this system further, so that dentists will have guidance on how patients’ oral health should determine the kind of treatment they receive. There is currently an IT system in place to aid in the application of the traffic light plan. In order to prepare for the new practices joining the scheme, this system has been improved.
The dental quality and outcomes framework (DQOF), which measures dentists’ performance and the results of their work, is also being examined as part of this scheme. By examining the DQOF and using the traffic light system, the Department of Health hopes this will ensure that practices nationwide are offering high quality dental care.
Dentists may benefit from the scheme’s examination of how dentists should be paid. Rather than being paid for every treatment they give to patients, instead they could be paid for the number of patients in their care and the results of their treatment. Government ministers are keen to overhaul the current method that dentists are paid as critics have accused them of treating patients too much. This has been otherwise referred to as the ‘drill and fill’ culture.
Chief dental officer for England, Barry Cockcroft said “I am delighted to welcome the new practices to the pilot scheme and know they will continue with the excellent work,”
Dr Cockcroft said that he had received a high level of applications, which he thought showed that the pilot had been received with positivity. He said that he hoped the practices chosen would broadly represent many areas of the dental profession, although selecting which practices should join the scheme was not easy.
To prepare for the pilot scheme being introduced into the practices, a training day was held in Birmingham earlier in January. This was to ensure that the practices would be confident in employing the new methods and care techniques outlined.
One of the practices involved in the scheme is Skipton Road Dental Surgery in Colne, Lancashire. Staff here will be employing the scheme’s traffic light system from April.
The other practices involved in the scheme are located in various areas across the country, such as Exeter, Sheffield, Sunderland and London.