New dental contract aims to improve treatment

December 15th, 2010
New dental contract aims to improve treatment

There are plans to substitute the disliked dental contract, introduced in 2006 by the Labour government, with a new one rewarding the quality of the treatment, not the number of treatments carried out.

The existing contract, which dentists have complained about since its launch, saw dentists paid according to their ability to meet individual targets. However, these targets were set in stone, meaning that if a dentist had filled his quota by January, then he would have to stop seeing patients. Similarly, other surgeries that failed to meet their targets were forced to return cash already paid out and spent on practice facilities.

The new contract aims to reward quality of treatment, rather than encouraging dentists to “drill and fill”, focusing on preventative procedures and improved oral healthcare in general.

Under the new system, dentists will be paid per registered patient, making it more beneficial financially for them to work on preventative treatments and encourage good oral healthcare, so they can take on more patients and improve access to NHS surgeries.

Health Minister Lord Howe said: “As set out in the NHS White Paper, we are committed to delivering a new contract for NHS dentistry.

“We want to give dentists the freedom to deliver high quality care and reward them for the outcomes they achieve for their patients, not for the volume of treatment delivered, as is the case now.

“This is about prevention, not cure. People need a dental service that helps them maintain good oral health and prevents decay, rather than one that is based solely on treatment.

“It is important that we get this absolutely right so that our reforms will give dentists the encouragement they need to provide a service that meets the needs of today’s population.”

Trials of the new system will begin in April this year at around 50 dental surgeries across the country.

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