BDA Wales staff and your elected representatives have been busy this year, working on a range of issues affecting dentistry in Wales.
Clawback and dental patient access
We know that clawback is an ongoing issue for practice owners working in Wales, and so we recently conducted a series of FOI requests to the Health Boards, to find out how much money was being taken back (and probably not being reinvested) in dentistry.
In addition to our annual analysis of amounts of clawback and contract reductions, we also investigated levels of access for new patients by surveying all dental practices in Wales, and we published our findings in the BDJ in June 2019.
The results showed that many practices are struggling within their NHS contracts to deliver on targets.
We will continue to work with the CDO and with the Health Boards to ensure this money is put back into dentistry, especially in the areas where it is most needed. Oral health inequalities continue in Wales, and although we are pleased to see some positive improvements in oral health, there is still more that can be done.
Engaging on dental contract reform
Ensuring that dental contract reform works for both the profession and our patients, is a key area we have continued to work on this year. We have been part of the steering group, and we continue to raise the issues dentists are facing, whilst engaging constructively with the process. We will push for a truly prevention-based contract, alongside evidence-based workforce planning with incentives to encourage dentists to train and work in Wales.
Practice regulation remains a key concern for dentists too. We responded to the Welsh Government’s consultation on the use of Welsh Language in Primary Care Regulations and were pleased the Government took on board several points we had raised relating to GDS and PDS services, in order to make the new regulations workable in practice.
Investment in improving oral health is key
Investment in improving oral health remains a key priority for us. We applaud the ‘Designed to Smile’ programme, but we are concerned it now excludes children older than seven. This was echoed by the Assembly Health Committee in their report into dentistry in May this year. Simply put, the programme has proven efficacy, and the inclusion of very young children was an excellent move. However, we wish to see new investment for more children, to ensure they benefit in the future.
We’ve also been campaigning on the oral health of vulnerable groups, responding to the Welsh Government’s consultation on older people in care homes and the Assembly Health Committee’s consultation on health in prisons, raising the issues of the need for adequate resourcing, staffing, and funding, to ensure dental patients get the treatment they need.
Lobbying for change: getting the issues onto AMs agendas
We have been speaking to several Assembly Members (AMs) about the state of NHS General Dentistry in Wales over the last year in response to the Assembly’s Inquiry into Dentistry launched in the summer of 2018 and concluded in October 2019.
We also looked at the levels of access for patients across Wales. There were 12 AM constituencies where no practices were taking on new adult patients, and eight such areas where no practices were taking on new child patients. We raised this issue in the press and the media, with your representatives doing TV and radio interviews to make the case for dentistry.
We were pleased to see these issues being raised by AMs in a recent Plenary of the Assembly, with questions to the First Minister. Angela Burns AM, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, raised the lack of support for dentists in Wales and highlighted that this is a real challenge to the retention of dentists in the country. Dai Lloyd, Chair of the Health Committee, complained about the very low numbers of dental practices taking on new patients.
These are areas of work that we will continue, highlighting the issues you face to the people who have the power to change things.
We'd like to thank all our members, by being a part of the BDA, you are helping to make our voice stronger. We look forward to continuing to work with you in 2020.
Caroline Seddon, BDA Wales National Director
BDA Wales: working for youBDA Wales campaigns for the interests of all dentists working in Wales. With our elected committee members, we negotiate on behalf of the profession on terms and conditions, pay and contracts: join us.