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NHS dentistry and oral health May update

By DTA | 11th May 2023 | News

This month's NHS dentistry and oral health update has a special focus celebrating the 10th year of Direct Access.

Sara Hurley CDO England:

"Since my appointment in 2015, I have challenged the disparity in and interpretation of the NHS regulations and welcome the Jan 2023 NHS clarification on ensuring direct access is equally applicable in NHS funded care. This facility is a core principle of skill mix in NHS general dental practice and has the opportunity to empower the entire dental team to work to their full potential for NHS patients.

However, I am conscious that there remains some barriers to fully implementing direct access in NHS funded dental care, in particular the applicability of a patient group direction (PGD). We know that many dental practices are utilising privately produced PGDs for the administration of medicines by dental care professionals when they provide care to patients paying privately. These privately produced PGDs may equally be applicable to NHS funded care but will require authorisation by the NHS commissioning body. The "NHS" authorisation will apply to PGDs that are deemed to be correct in terms of clinical and pharmaceutical content/legislation and meet the needs of the providers. As there can be a wide variation in the quality of privately produced PGDs, the NHS authorising body may wish to seek assurance from the organisation that has produced it as to their process for development/qualifications and registration of clinical signatories.

Your Integrated Care Board (ICB) is now responsible for determining who the responsible signatory should be for PGDs. This is often the Head of Governance (or a similar role), but this will vary depending on organisational structure. The Specialist Pharmacy Service (SPS) have published an article about signatories for PGDs and NICE medical practice guidelines provide recommendations about good practice for developing, authorising, using and updating patient group directions. Additional information from SPS about the development and use of PGDs by ICBs, including dental PGDs is also available.

Whilst Dental System Reform progresses and further iterative contractual changes are anticipated I do hope you will join me in celebrating the diverse capabilities and skills of our dental teams, not just for the month of May, but for the foreseeable future."

General Dental Council:

"In 2013 the GDC lifted the regulatory barrier to Direct Access, giving patients the option to see a dental care professional (DCP) without prescription from a dentist. At the time there was some apprehension regarding the move, however a decade on, direct access has been increasingly integrated into dental team working. Despite this shift in culture there are still changes to be made to enable dental professionals to work to their full scope of practice. This is one of the drivers behind the GDC's current review of the Scope of Practice - to make the guidance more flexible and enabling. Across dentistry there is a common view that maximising the dental team skill mix is essential to meeting the needs of dentistry in the future and direct access continues to play a pivotal role in this." 

The DTA along with other DCP organisations also made statements of support.

Read the full NHS May Update  

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