‘Continued vigilance’ needed for dental pilots

The British Dental Association (BDA) has said that continued vigilance will be essential in assessing the pilots for a new dental contract in England.
General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC) chair Dr John Milne has highlighted concerns arising from BDA focus groups.
These include anxieties about the feasibility of implementation in small practices, the impact on the working patterns of associate dentists and whether new arrangements can be introduced in a single phase.
A comprehensive campaign to explain any changes that are made to patients will be vital, Dr Milne stresses.
But he also argues that the emergence of these concerns must not be allowed to frighten the profession into withdrawing support for them, emphasising the significant amount of positive commentary about the pilots, including the improved morale of dental professionals participating in them and an ability to adopt a more preventive approach to care.
Tellingly, Dr Milne argues, some participants said that the pilots allowed them to return to the kind of dentistry they were taught at dental school.
Dr Milne also argues that the profession’s continuing frustrations with the current contractual system must not allow it to be lulled into accepting what is being piloted unquestioningly, insisting that more time and continuing engagement are vital to getting the reforms right.
Milne said the profession must be pleased but not complacent. GDPC Representatives have vowed extreme vigilance in their engagement with the Department of Health on the development of the new arrangements.
He said: 'Professional morale seems to have improved,' adding 'crucially, it was felt that patients are getting better care in the pilots than they would be outside them.'

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