The Secret Dentist believes the Covid pandemic is calling the end of NHS dentistry as we currently know it.
For many months now independent private practice has been booming.
My view is that a few factors are causing this, which play into the hands of non-NHS general dental practice.
NHS general dental practice is imploding.
The Covid era appears to be achieving what ‘the powers that be’ controlling NHS general dental practice have been trying to do for years – get rid of it.
NHS practices have no desire nor ability to get back to pre-Covid levels of activity. The penny has dropped that the previous work requirements were, and more so now, are ridiculous.
What a practice had to do to achieve UDA targets is unethical for both staff and patients.
The backlog of work in the NHS is an unsurmountable mountain.
The drive by LATs (and the CDO) to prioritise emergencies and people who haven’t attended for years is laughable, if it wasn’t so serious.
To prioritise patients who haven’t been to a dentist for years and who didn’t care about their own dental health, above those who at least try to look after themselves is perverse. The fact the UDA system makes it even more perverse to treat them adds yet more nails into the coffin lid of NHS general dental practice.
Private practice appeal
Private practices have never been busier. Both serving their own patients and those who have found their NHS practices unable to offer appointments.
The staffing crisis in NHS dentistry is because nobody wants to work there.
Private practices are able to recruit the few associates that are available. As well as being able to offer a workplace that is acceptable.
Corporates are scrambling to get out of ‘NHS world’ as NHS practice valuations crumble. I have lost count of the number of corporate-owned NHS practices that have simply closed their doors. They’re not even trying to sell them.
Soon the profession will need to sit down and help a cross party group of MPs design a basic NHS dental system, starting with a blank piece of paper, that is suitable given what funds the Treasury is prepared to allocate.
It won’t be pretty and will be confined to looking after all children and emergency treatment for others only. Salaried dentists will staff it in their first few years.
Let us all celebrate the death of a system that is dragging dentistry down for far too long.
Catch previous Secret Dentist columns:
- With so much turmoil, it’s time to be positive
- Time for change
- Well, what a relief…not
- There will never be a better time
- Remember who you are.
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