The secret dentist – is everything positive for dentistry?

The Secret DentistCould a future outside of the NHS be good for dentistry? This month The Secret Dentist questions whether we might start to see the end of NHS dentistry this April.

After writing last month, dear Boris put the new tough lockdown in place.

The ‘top’ dentist in England – the CDO, Sara Hurley – was jointly responsible for trying to force us to entice patients from their homes to have some routine care.

That is the only way practices up and down the country will meet the 45% target.

Why a 45% target now?

Possibly a sweetener for the truck load of manure the NHS is about to dump on dental practices come 1 April 2021.

Logic dictates that if they are asking for 45% now, given that vaccination of the nation is starting, they’ll be totally comfortable with 75% for next year.

Obviously, because there is no way on earth anybody within NHS England/Improvement (NHSE/I) has the grey matter to propose a new, radical contract so desperately needed.

That, and the clawback that will affect thousands of practices, will cause the holders of smaller NHS contracts to leave in their droves. At least that will allow NHSE/I to blame the profession for the implosion of NHS dentistry.

I still hold out a glimmer of hope that the CDOs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are capable of better managing their dental portfolios. Hopefully they are ‘on the case’ as I write.

It would result in a reduced service, but a better remunerated one. And one that will also be well policed to ensure those on the fringes don’t excessively play the system.

What will that mean for UK dentistry?

It could be one of the best things to happen for dentistry since the inception of the NHS in 1948.

We have been going downhill since the first introduction of charges in 1951/52. The migration into proper, normal private practice will be bigger than occurred after the 1992 fee cut. And the 2006 flawed UDA contract.

Barry Cockcroft will finally be able to rest in peace. He will no longer have been the architect of the biggest loss of dentists in the NHS.

That honour will lie with Sara Hurley. Will her gong at Buckingham Palace be inscribed:

Sara Hurley CDO England
15 August – 21 April
Oversaw the end of NHS dentistry
And saved the profession from themselves.

So, dentists (mainly in England) up and down the country will finally leave the system. A system that has caused them so much angst for so long.

They will be free of the shackles of compromise and working the system. They can look their patients in the eye, as they will now have time to talk to them. As well as ask for a fair price, for a fair service.

So it will be God bless the NHS and all who sailed in her as our Titanic finally sinks somewhere in Daventry.

I have no idea where Daventry is, but it seems a fitting end (with apologies to anyone who is born and bred in Daventry and loves the place).


Catch previous Secret Dentist columns:

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