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Building a dental service for the future in Wales

Blog Author Katrina Clarke

Blog Date 19/04/2018


The Welsh Government recently held its first Dental Symposium, with the aim of bringing together all those working in dentistry in Wales; providing a forum for learning and sharing of knowledge and ideas on building a dental service for the future. 

The Public Health Wales’ Dental team hosted the event, alongside the Chief Dental Officer (CDO) for Wales, the Welsh Dental Committee and our Welsh Dental Practice Committee supported the day. I attended and alongside, CDO Colette Bridgman, highlighted some of the key points made at the end of the day.

Delegates included GDPs, clinical staff, specialists, consultants, dental care practitioners, as well as practice managers, practice owners and Health Board dental leads: Facilitating constructive engagement with everyone involved in delivering oral health in Wales.

Dr Colette Bridgman, Chief Dental Officer (CDO) for Wales gave an overview of the policy direction of the Welsh Government to date. Discussing the three key priorities: a refocus of Designed to Smile (D2S), the e-referral management system and the General Dental Service (GDS) reform programme.  A programme of speakers covered education and training, skills mix and innovation with some case studies – the presentations are available online.

Breakout groups discussed themes from Welsh Government’s Prosperity for All – the national strategy with the aim of outlining an oral health and dental service response to this – a summary of these discussions are available online. 

The tone of the day was rightly positive. We applaud the efforts of the CDO Wales and Welsh Government to make inroads into the issues facing oral health in Wales and we would encourage more events like this, that bring those working in the dental sector together and come up with solutions to problems. 

Prevention and dental contract reform

The issue of getting the message out to patients and parents/carers was a hot topic of the day, we know that the key to prevention is getting regular messages across to people about their diet, and ensuring they are following a good oral hygiene routine, as well as visiting the dentist regularly.

GDS Contract Reform was a key topic and there was a case study provided by practice owner, Paul Ridgewell on taking part in the GDS reform programme since 2010 which has been very positive for him, his staff and his patients. 

The two ‘prototype practices’ in Swansea remain on the 85% capitation contract and are being integrated with the new programme of pilots in Wales: so far 23 practices have signed up on a basis of 10% UDAs being used for prevention and the hope is that there will be similar numbers signing up in April and October as the programme continues to develop (BDA Wales representatives sit on the Programme Board which met this week to review progress).

Patient access is a contract reform programme KPI – it is not allowed to fall. Furthermore, if the new oral health assessment programme is successful it will provide an opportunity for some practices to actually increase access. 

BDA Wales welcomes this possibility as our recent research demonstrates that the average number of practices in Wales taking on new adult patients has halved in five years from 30% to 15%. A reversal of declining access is critical for NHS dentistry. 

So, to me, these are reasons to be more hopeful about contract reform being successful in Wales, and we will be looking to monitor the morale of staff in practices involved in the new pilots as one of several KPIs. This Contract Reform Programme is critical to the successful future of NHS dentistry, and we will work hard to ensure Welsh Government is listening to our views as part of the process.

Katrina Clarke
Chair, BDA Welsh Council

BDA Wales - working for you

BDA 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.