In issue 13 of The Business of Dentistry Magazine, an exclusive interview with the Chair of the BDA, Mick Armstrong, divulged his views on the future of the BDA as well as dentistry in the UK.
Here, Practice Plan Area Manager Zoe Close reflects on Mick’s views on regulation and gives her thoughts.
During the interview with Mick, it comes to light that high levels of governance and compliance potentially has an impact on NHS dentists – specifically trying to deliver quality against tight budgets and time restraints.
At the time, Mick was keen to highlight that the GDC had recently met with the CQC and raised such a point for discussion. Arguing that if the CQC was serious about improving quality for patients, then they must look at contractual arrangements, which in turn would allow for patient expectations to be managed.
He also stated that one of the main influences on an NHS dentist was time. Claiming that if a dentist had the time to treat patients in the appropriate way, then they would achieve the right levels of quality as well as having the time to communicate and follow up more effectively – which in turn would reduce the chance of problems occurring and a reduction in litigation and claims. He acknowledged that there is a patient health need out there but stressed that there is a finite resource, with a Government who keeps asking for more and regulators who don’t understand the industry, and I have to agree.
Over the past few years I have worked with and seen compliance grow in practice enormously and the NHS contract values in comparison have stayed pretty much fixed. Any principal/practice owner must now, within the same contract value, not only deliver an excellent patient-focused service, but also find time and resources to deliver the regulation and compliance requirements to satisfy the CQC and other regulatory bodies.
I have seen first-hand how the introduction of these regulations have affected teams and the added pressure to the owners. Practice managers’ roles have also become so driven by compliance that I have often seen poor decision making due to the pressure of regulations. I’ve always supported inspections and have been involved in many over the years, but there seems to be so many regulations in place that it’s all becoming a little blurred.
Unfortunately, the regulation environment falls down because those regulating the industry do not appear to have a clear and realistic picture of what is happening in practice and the current financial restraints. The 2006 NHS contract was not designed with all of the added regulation in mind. So you would hope this should be considered as part of the new contracts and tested out with the prototypes. I guess time will tell.