Steele on track for new dental contract proposals

Health minister Lord Howe has agreed that Professor Jimmy Steele will assist in shaping new dental contract pilot proposals going forward.

The Government will publish proposals for piloting a new dentistry contract by December, he announced today.

Following a meeting with Professor Jimmy Steele, who led an Independent Review of NHS dentistry last year, Lord Howe agreed that Professor Steele should assist in developing the new pilot proposals going forward.

The NHS White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, proposed the introduction of a new dentistry contract following a period of consultation and piloting.

The aim of the new contract will be to improve quality of patient care and increase access to NHS dental services, with an additional focus on improving the oral health of schoolchildren.

Lord Howe says: ‘As set out in the White Paper, we intend to bring in a new dental contract based on registration, capitation and quality.

‘Our aim is to improve oral health for adults and children as well as increase access to NHS dental services. I have set up a national steering group to drive this work forward, with the aim of publishing the pilot proposals by the end of this year.

‘I am delighted Professor Steele has agreed to join this group and assist us in developing these proposals.  There are many aspects of Professor Steele’s review that are in line with the coalition government’s plans to reform the NHS dental contract.’

Professor Jimmy Steele says: ‘Reform of NHS dentistry is a high priority, both for the professionals who work with the system and for the patients who use it, so I am delighted to continue to make a contribution as a member of the steering group through the process of piloting and implementation.’

The British Dental Association (BDA) is backing his involvement, stressing once again the importance of early discussions between government and the Association in developing the proposals prior to publication later this year and meaningful piloting of any proposed reforms.

John Milne, chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee says: ‘The profession has offered its broad support for the proposals outlined in Professor Steele’s Review since it was published in the summer of 2009. We are delighted to see that he will continue to be involved in the development of proposals for reform.

‘The profession must be fully involved in their development from an early stage. We look forward to helping to move the process of reform forward and delivering a better NHS dental system for patients and dentists across England.’

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