The conversation was timely, considering the recent statement about General Dental Service (GDS) contract reform given by the health minister in the Senedd Plenary the previous evening. The statement raised many questions from members of Senedd in response, about the reality that is playing out in their constituencies every day with patients reporting a widespread lack of access to NHS dentistry.
Much of the conversation with Mr Price and Mr Campbell was spent focusing on the pressures caused by the current GDS reform volumetric targets. We explained how the volumetrics measures lack sensitivity for clinical need and why this is causing serious problems for practices.
Throughout the discussion we illustrated that high needs patients require far more clinical time, and the current capitation model carries no weighting for such patients; nor does the system account for deprived areas of Wales with poorer health where patients require more support with their oral health.
We explained the urgent requirement for streamlining the contract reform governance structure and for the integration of practicing General Dental Practitioners into the key decision-making groups. Most importantly, contract reform must address business modelling aspects so that practices can provide NHS care to patients without making significant financial losses.
A follow up meeting will discuss the workforce requirements for a sustainable NHS service and what solutions might be available to start turning the dial.