NHS England has released new guidance regarding the utilisation of dental hygienists and dental therapists.
This follows the ‘significant’ changes to the NHS dental contract last summer, which included the removal of administrative barriers preventing dental care professionals from operating within their full scope of practice.
Titled ‘supporting the use of skill mix in NHS general dental practice‘, it details how dental practices can utilise dental therapists and dental hygienists.
‘As a practice owner, the increased use of skill mix is crucial both in the recruitment of workforce where there are some real shortages and also in retention of the workforce that we have,’ said Jason Wong, deputy chief dental officer.
‘In our practice we ensure that all dental nurses have the ability to develop their skill set so they can work to the fullest scope of practice as much for creating a rewarding environment for retention of staff than the increased efficiency created by more team members able to carry out a bigger range of tasks.’
He cited the current recruitment challenges make the decision to increase skill mix a ‘no brainer’ – but added that there would still be a case for it regardless.
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The guidance reads: ‘Until October 2022, administrative processes have created a barrier to NHS dental teams maximising the full potential of DCPs.
‘Changes delivered as part of NHS dental contract reform have altered the FP17 to enable DCPs to record their contribution to providing NHS care, including to open and close a course of treatment under NHS contract arrangements.’
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