Dentists dissatisfied with current NHS contract, research shows

Dentists are dissatisfied with the current NHS contract

Dentists are dissatisfied with the current NHS contract and are lacking knowledge about the current pilots and prototypes, new research shows.

A survey, asking NHS dentists* for their views on a variety of issues related to NHS dentistry has been released by Denplan (commissioned through Facts International), also examined opinions about the current contract as well as knowledge of the pilots and prototypes.

Other key issues the NHS dentists were asked about included their confidence around NHS funding commitments filtering through to primary care dentistry, motivation levels for making changes to their practice situation and the impact of the friends and family test. 

‘It is apparent from these survey results that many NHS dentists continue to feel disillusioned and frustrated with the lack of clear direction around the NHS contract changes,’ Roger Matthews, chief dental officer at Denplan, said.

‘There also appears to be a general lack of understanding in relation to the pilots and prototype models.

‘With the realisation that the NHS funding situation for primary care dentistry does not look likely to improve, it is unsurprising that many NHS dentists may be feeling uncertain as to the future viability of their practice if they stay with the NHS.

‘The result is that a significant proportion of NHS dentists are considering a change to the way they manage and fund their practice in the foreseeable future.

‘Dentists appear to also be concerned about the hours it will take their practice to compile the statistics from the now mandatory friends and family test, with half saying it will take their practice between one-four hours a month to process the results.

‘This could add up to the equivalent of at least six days a year spent away from delivering patient care.’

Key findings

The key findings are summarised below:

Current NHS contract and prototypes

  • Nearly half the dentists (49%) are dissatisfied with working under the current NHS contract, with 3% very satisfied and 29% saying they are fairly satisfied
  • Two thirds (65%) of dentists rate their knowledge of the current situation regarding NHS dentistry pilots and prototypes as fair or poor
  • Three quarters (76%) agree they are frustrated that more than four years after piloting began we are still no nearer to a final model
  • 57% of these frustrated dentists have decided on making changes to their practice in the next 12 months
  • 54% are aware that the pilots will soon terminate and that a number of practices will act as prototypes for the reformed NHS contracts in England, 66% of these think that it is unlikely the prototype model will free them from the UDA system.

NHS funding for primary care dentistry

  • 95% of dentists are not confident that political assurances for NHS funding commitments will filter down to primary care dentistry
  • 56% think that the 2006 contract’s cap on the dental budget will not be reversed
  • 86% of dentists overwhelmingly agree they would like NHS England to state clearly what is and what is not available in NHS dentistry – just 2% disagreed.

Impact of friends and family test

  • 72% have commenced using the friends and family test (FFT) that was introduced in April but the majority of respondents (73%) didn’t think the FFT would be useful for either their practice or their patients.

*100 dentists responded to the online survey in April and May 2015, with all respondents holding an NHS contract in England, treating over 70% of their patient base as NHS patients.

They were not part of a corporate body or a member of a payment plan provider.

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