Tom Bysouth, Chair WGDPC discusses the Welsh Government's unveiled plans for dentistry.
These past weeks and months have been tough on practices and their teams, with great uncertainty as to what will happen with dentistry when we come out of lockdown. We have been unsure over what equipment may be required and worried that there is a mounting burden of disease waiting for us all to try and manage. The question of what happens next was on all our minds. Well, with great relief I can confirm that we now know more.
Today, members of Welsh GDPC met with the Chief Dental Officer for Wales, Dr Colette Bridgman, to discuss the Welsh Governments plans for expanding dental services in Wales. The full detail of these plans have now been published:
Moving away from a target-driven approach
Returning to routine dentistry in Wales involves, as predicted, a set of various escalation stages. It includes moving urgent dental centres (UDCs) out of the community dental services (CDS) and into the general dental services (GDS). We are looking at a major change. The activity-based Unit of Dental Activity (UDAS) will now be an assessment-based Unit of Dental Assessment (UDAS).
"This move away from the target-driven approach is something that has been on the minds of dental teams for years."
This move away from the target-driven approach is something that has been on the minds of dental teams for years. We are delighted to see that the Welsh Government has the vision to change around the way dentistry will be delivered in the future. This is especially significant now when activity targets in times of social distancing and reduced practice throughput would be unfathomable.
In broad terms, the new Unit of Dental Assessment will be set around the numbers of patients to be seen for a given contract value - with caveats based around patient need. Clearly those practices with a greater proportion of patients with high levels of oral health need, as demonstrated by the ACORN, will require their contract value to reflect this.
Patients will receive an annual full assessment and be provided with an annual care plan, with the practice having control over the level of skill mix utilised in carrying out those annual care plans. The full details are found in the Government's published plans and I would urge you to read these.
We know and appreciate that there are lots of fine details to unfold over the next weeks and months. There will obviously be a myriad of questions, discussions and thoughts of how this framework will work in practice. We will continue to work behind the scenes to ensure all of these questions are posed and answered in a collaborative manner.
There won't be a one-size-fits-all answer. Dr Bridgman has embraced this and will be directing Health Boards to work constructively with individual practices to understand their strengths and needs and to look for opportunities to improve outcomes for patients and practices. This is truly a win-win moment. Let's seize this great opportunity and make it work for our patients, teams and the dental community as a whole in Wales.
Chair of the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee