NEW POLICY PAPER AFFECTING TREATMENT PLANS, PRICING AND REFORMING THE DENTAL CONTRACT

The Treasury produced a policy paper in November 2015 setting out proposed action to increase competition across a number of sectors and reduce bills for families and smaller firms. The document describes current dentistry pricing as “opaque and confusing”, citing a 2012 OFT report. 

The paper indicates that the Government will make treatment plans and price lists clearer and more accessible by asking NHS England to:

  • reinforce the requirement for NHS treatment and pricing to be understandable; and
  • further improve the information available through NHS Choices by Spring 2016.

In a welcome move for dentists looking to buy a practice, the paper also criticised the rigid regulatory controls concerning who can enter the market and where they can do so. 

In addition, the Government will be “carefully considering” the issue of non-time limited dental contracts “as part of broader work on contract reform” and to “improve efficiency and competition” in providing dental services.  This policy is proving controversial and could have an adverse impact of NHS dental practice owners and possible future sales.

NHS DENTAL STATISTICS 2015-2016 1ST QUARTERLY REPORT

The NHS has published its report the second quarter of 2015/16. This brings together information on NHS dental activity in England and patients seen by NHS dentists.

The statistics show that 300 million patients were seen over the 24-month period ending on 30 September 2015. This is an increase of 1.9 million from the March 2006 baseline and represents 55.8% of the population compared to the March 2006 baseline of 55.6%.

NHS dentists have seen 8 million children which is 2.7% above the March 2006 baseline. There have been 9.6 million courses of treatment in the first quarter of 2015/16, a decrease of 31,964, representing a 0.3% drop from the first quarter of 2014/15.

NEW DENTAL DIRECTOR APPOINTED FOR DENTAL PROTECTION

Raj Ruttan MBE has been appointed as the new Dental Director for professional indemnity providers Dental Protection and will succeed Kevin Lewis from this Summer.  Mr Ruttan said “It is a huge privilege to be given the opportunity to lead a team who are dedicated to dentistry”.

COMPASS

Compass, the new dental contract management system, came into force on 8 February 2016. The system aims to offer more flexibility and functionality for users. However teething problems are causing havoc for all.  Dentists are advised to keep a paper record of their daily logs in case their claims go missing, because there is no leeway in case of difficulty accessing Compass and completing their schedules.

NEW GDC FITNESS TO PRACTICE GUIDANCE FOR TRAINING PROVIDERS AND STUDENTS

Following an open consultation, the GDC has drafted new guidance for training providers and dental students regarding fitness to practice. Once finalised, these drafts will update previous guidance published in. 

The draft guidance covers health, social media, raising concerns and the duty of candour. 

It requires all staff involved in providing training to students to be provided with the GDC Standards, the Student fitness to practice guidance and the provider’s student fitness to practice policy, procedures and support. It also makes clear that providers may have their own fitness to practise called into question should they fail to follow the guidance.

HIGH COURT TERMINATES IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION ORDER AS NOT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

Last year the GDC’s Professional Conduct Committee (“PCC”) imposed a 12 month suspension order on Jonathan Davey, a clinical dental technician, for dishonesty and deception. Mr Davey was found to have made dentures for a patient in circumstances outside the scope of his practice, not keeping adequate records and submitting non-contemporaneous notes to the GDC as if they were contemporaneous.

The PCC imposed an immediate suspension order on the basis that immediate suspension was in the public interest due to the gravity of the misconduct.

Mr Davey appealed separately against the 12-month suspension and against the immediate suspension order. The Court allowed the appeal against the immediate suspension, taking into account its Draconian effect, adding to the 12 months the time it would take for the main appeal to be heard. When the main appeal was heard, the 12-month suspension was upheld.

The period of suspension pending the appeal hearing would not.