13 May 2016  •  Options Out Of The NHS  •  2min read By  • Zoe Close

Value for Money?

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, Zoe Close, Area Sales Manager from Practice Plan, reflects on Mick’s views on the removal of a target driven contract for dentists.

Mick was quite vocal in his interview about this topic, opting potentially for a full capitation approach. He also expressed the need to acknowledge that this may result in asking the question, ‘do we need more resources in dentistry?’ to cope with retaining access levels.

When it came to discussing if all of this could be done and still deliver ‘value for money’ for the taxpayer, Mick’s response was quite clear – in the Government and Area Teams’ eyes ‘value for money’ means ‘cheap’ – and I couldn’t agree with him more. Value for money in my world is a patient-focused dentist striving their hardest to achieve the best for the patient at all times.

Whereas, and he was quite right to state that, in real terms, the Government is actually putting less money in. The population has increased and the amount of money put into NHS dentistry has gone down. At the same time, the patient charge percentage has gone up. Highlighting that ‘Government spend on dentistry is actually less than they claim and it’s far less than it should be’.

Again, I have to agree. NHS dental contracts have been driven down so much. I’ve worked in the industry for 30 years and seen every change along the way. Not only have I seen dentists become depressed about the situation but staff demoralised when witnessing a dentist’s behaviour change towards their patients because of the pressure to achieve unrealistic targets.

In my experience, NHS dental practices, when forced to focus on targets whilst also being asked to deliver ‘value for money’, are rapidly becoming the less desirable places to work, and I think that it is a terrible shame – for those dentists in that situation, their teams and their patients.

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