In dentistry there is the continuing crisis that is NHS dentistry. A singular failure over the years to acknowledge the funding gap between what the Department of Health/Government of the day want to deliver to the nation and what they set the dental budget at.
This has not been helped by the ability of dental professionals to continue to make any NHS contract, that is thrown at them, work despite their protestations about how unfair it all is.
The crisis was made worse by the 2006 contract which effectively focussed the majority who are delivering an NHS contract to concentrate on delivering the UDA based system as cheaply and efficiently as possible. It seems it isn’t about the care people need but how the UDAs can be delivered by giving them care.
The incoming Government via Earl Howe the current Health Minister have acknowledged the problem of the 2006 contract. Even the Chief Dental Officer, Barry Cockcroft (BC) has acknowledged the problem with the contract even though at the time of its introduction he was about as far in the other direction of supporting it and indeed justifying it as anyone could be.
And that brings us nicely to current shambles that is the pilots for the new, new contract. Having acknowledged that the 2006 contract wasn’t fit for purpose and building on the work of Professor Jimmy Steele published in June 2009 the Department of Health and BC proudly announced that a new contract would be produced. This one really, really, really would be the right one! The right one for patients, the right one for the profession, the right one for the Treasury (who pay the bill) and the right one for the politicians who would take all the praise.
Pilots were announced in December 2010 and the proposed introduction date was 1st April 2014. What we have had since then has been lots of huffing and puffing, lots of acquiring wonderful data, lots of dentists saying they were enjoying the concept. Lots of BC saying how wonderful it all is. Now more pilots and the start date effectively put back until after the next election.
We also now sit in a climate where the NHS is going from one crisis to the next and is effectively a bankrupt organisation but which can’t go bankrupt because the government won’t allow it. The whole of NHS management is being exposed as not fit for purpose. Our dear Chancellor is slashing budgets left right and centre to the extent that people are starving and the Armed Forces are being effectively reduced to part-time soldiering.
Very soon BC is going to have to wake up to the fact that there isn’t a solution. It doesn’t matter which way he tries to spin it. No-one, not even he, will be able to provide anywhere near the comprehensive, available to all, dental service he and the government are trying to pretend they can. With so much of a financial crisis going on why would be even protect the dental budget. Everyone else has to make 10 or 20% savings, why would we think dentistry is a special case?
So dear Barry, put that in your pipe and smoke it and see what pilots you can come up with to deliver dentistry with 20% less money than you had before.
It will be time for honesty, integrity and professionalism to deal with dentistry going forward. Funny that. That is the mantra of Future Health Partnership.
Bye for now.