Long Term future for the NHS?

Posted by: Charlie Burrows

There has been a growing concern on whether there is a lack of confidence in NHS dentistry. This is indicated by a recent survey performed by Practice Plan, reported by Dentistry.co.uk: https://www.dentistry.co.uk/2019/03/28/confidence-nhs-dentistry-low/ showing that only a quarter of NHS dentists think that there is a long term future, with the rest seemingly disenfranchised with the idea that the arrangement will continue.

The study and findings show some disturbing data which further reiterates the complications of how NHS dentists are in limited supply in some areas of the country and that the current state of availability for dentist appointments is severely lacking. In turn, this is creative a negative view across the industry on how this process can continue.

 

Private Dentists: Worried and Concern

The study shows that 43% of participating dentists find it difficult to balance working with the NHS structure (patient appointments and complex procedures). The main issue seems to be related to the worry and stress of performing complicated treatments and meeting targets which are set by the NHS. Many practices perform private treatments but when performing procedures on NHS patients, there is always the concern of complaints and legal action which can follow. This stress and worry is enough to put dentists off from participating in treating NHS patients, which also is resulting in another crisis which could affect the future of dentist availability in the UK.

 

Shortage and Exodus

Stress and worry about fitting within the NHS workframe has also created a big problem with recruitment, where many dental practices are struggling to hire enough dentists. This in turn impacts the availability in smaller areas, particularly those where we know that people have found it difficult to find anywhere to accept NHS patients. It has seemingly put many off from pursuing those roles and preferring to only work at private clinics, serving only private patients, which is obviously giving them more flexibility and leeway, outlining their own structure and rules.

As we can see reported previously here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5964757/Chaos-thousands-patients-NHS-dentists-recruitment-crisis.html we can see that the problem with the lack of dentists in the UK stretches back to 2018 and before, when Mydentist admitted it didn’t have enough dentists to perform treatments and check-ups.

We know that some European dentists are leaving the UK because of the uncertainty of Brexit and this has resulted in a shortage of qualified dentists in many areas, further adding pressure and strain onto an already struggling system.