Dentistry’s PCT survey: The final countdown

The end is in sight. For the last few months, we have been canvassing the profession on the state of play with the nation’s primary care trusts, and the wait is nearly over.

But we still need your help with one last push to make sure the picture we are painting is as accurate as it can be.

The survey closes on 31 January 2010 – so with only a few weeks to go, this really is your last chance to make your voice heard.

Simply click here to have your say.

Every single response is important; we want the results to be as representative as possible, so whether your PCT is exemplary, execrable, or even just middle of the road, we want to hear about it.

The start of any new year is an ideal opportunity to reflect and make improvements – but we must understand our mistakes if we are to avoid making the same ones all over again.

This is exactly what our campaign is trying to do. Of course, whether or not the Department of Health or individual PCTs choose to listen is another question entirely, but not making the effort is to give up before we even begin.

Although 2010 is still in its infancy, it has not been without incident.

David Cameron has waded into the debate by pledging to overhaul the NHS under the Conservative party. How far this extends to dentistry in reality may remain to be seen but the message coming through is clear; that healthcare will be a major battleground in the forthcoming elections.

The Department of Health has wasted no time in firing its opening salvoes, claiming that its faith in the new contract will be vindicated this year. A bold statement at the best of times, but more so in light of the profession’s well-documented dissatisfaction with the contract, which showed no signs of easing last year. If anything, the unrest is more pronounced than ever, if the interim results of our survey are to be believed.

These claims from the DoH are all well and good, but to ignore the cries of the profession is to miss out a crucial part of the equation.

Uncertain future
What will happen to the improved access figures once professionals decide enough is enough? An increase in patients accessing NHS care is only part of the story – one that ignores the undercurrent of resentment within the profession.

The warning signs are everywhere; on internet forums, at the LDC conference, in the results of our survey. When the hordes of unhappy dentists decide they have reached the end of the road as far as the NHS is concerned, there is only one thing that can happen to access.

As recession loosens its grip on the economy and private practice becomes viable again in the eyes of the nation, how much time is left before this vision becomes real?

Whether this fear is justified or simply doom mongering is still the matter of debate in many circles – regardless of what the CDO would have you believe on the matter.

A final appeal
This is where Dentistry magazine and comes in. Over the last few months, we have been gradually documenting the opinions of the country’s dentists and are tantalisingly close to revealing the final results. As we have previously reported, the early indications are less than positive. But there is still the chance that we are hearing from a vocal minority.

If you feel these tales of strife are not representative of your own experiences, then let us know. Has life under the new contract settled down for you now? Indeed, are you thriving under the UDA system? If so – why?

Perhaps you haven’t even noticed a significant change for better or worse since 2006 – or at least, not one that you can lay at the door of the contract or your PCT.

Every response is crucial, and if you haven’t yet had your say then this is your last chance – the closing date for all entries is 31 January 2010. Don’t let it slip past without adding your comments!


Speaking sense?
In an ideal world, we would be able to point to a mix of comments from our campaign that illustrate the spread of quality across the UK.

Sadly, it’s not a perfect world – and the contract itself is far from ideal – and while there have been some positive responses, they are the exception. Several dentists feel their PCT is in contention for the dubious honour of ‘worst in the country’.

Almost everywhere the familiar complaints of failing to listen or understand are raising their heads. Below are just some of the recent comments to come out of our survey.

Of course, only time will tell how widespread these issues are but the news is not looking good. What do YOU think of your PCT? Let us know!

The good
‘Ours is a good PCT within their parameters and a good team to deal with. We have a child-only contract and no hassle. We would have liked more UDAs, but financially the PCT is as strapped for cash as most other NHS departments.’

The bad
‘The current contract puts the entire country to shame! It simply does not work. Whoever thought this system would protect patients from unethical dentistry was so wrong – it only made it hard for everyone else to provide proper dentistry.’

. . . and the ugly
‘Primary Care Trust? It acts more like a fascist dictatorship!’

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