The British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD) has tabled a vote of no confidence against the Office of the Chief Dental Officer – sparking calls for ‘urgent changes’ in dentistry.
Following a poll of more than 1,600 respondents, the newly-formed group found that 97.5% of its members have no confidence in the ‘current structure, remit and functioning’ of the OCDO.
As a result, they have sent a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock detailing their concerns regarding private dentistry and patient care.
The group suggest the following have ‘harmed patients, affected the mental health of many dental professionals and undermined the public perception of and confidence in the profession’:
- The instruction for all practices to cease seeing patients face to face
- The lack of timely guidance for all providers of dental care
- The revelation of the lack of a clear command structure for all of dentistry
- The lack of clear information for patients
- The poorly implemented contingency arrangement (UDCs)
- The pressure put on dentists to inappropriately prescribe antibiotics.
The BAPD is now calling for urgent action with the establishment of a new system. The letter reads this should be a place ‘where dentists, irrespective of whether the care they provide is funded by the NHS or privately, have input into a coordinated approach for the delivery of dental care in the UK.’
It states the delivery and clarity of messages with regards to dentistry throughout the pandemic has left the profession ‘at times bewildered and confused as to what the various messages have meant for their patients’.
They compare this to the ‘timely and clear’ messages delivered by the devolved administrations.
It finishes: ‘Unless there are urgent changes, the country is heading for a dental health crisis that will certainly bring with it major general health implications for the populace and will set back oral health gains by decades.
‘It is time for a clarity of leadership in dentistry.’
The letter was also sent to a number of other political figures, including Jo Churchill, Jeremy Hunt and Sir Keir Starmer.
To view the whole letter, click here.
Speaking to Dentistry Online, CDO for England, Sara Hurley, reacted to the letter – adding that a more considered response will be put together in due course.
She said: ‘This requires measured response and rebuttal to the assertions contained within the letter. This will be promulgated as soon as possible.’
The letter reads:
‘In the interim it is worth noting, that since its inception in late April 2020, the BAPD has not spoken with the Office of Chief Dental Officer for England, to discuss either current issues or the fears of private dentistry.
‘This is in marked contrast to the British Dental Association, the Association of Dental Groups, regional dental representatives and the UK national CDOs with whom we have almost daily contact and constructive dialogue.’
Safety at the forefront
It continues: ‘The safety of patients, as well as that of dental teams, has been at the forefront of our response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
‘From the start of the pandemic and throughout, the OCDO has continued to advise and promulgate guidance for the necessary risk management and the safeguarding of patients and staff to meet the challenges of the continually changing healthcare environment.
‘In partnership with committed dental practitioners and their teams, the OCDO has also overseen the establishment of an urgent dental care system with over 500 urgent dental care centres, designed to see any patient in need.
‘The profession’s acknowledged appreciation of the risks and need for compliance with the public health measures will undoubtedly set the conditions for further easing of lockdown.
‘In the continuing development of the way forward, the OCDO is working in partnership with the recognised and established professional representative bodies in order to safely and effectively meet the needs of our patients and dental teams over the coming months.
‘As noted in my opening, the BAPD correspondence requires a considered response.’
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