Sara Hurley Promises NHS Dental Contract Reform is Coming

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CDO for England, Sara Hurley, promises NHS Contract Reform will happen

Speaking at the Westminster Health Forum this month, Chief Dental Officer for England Sara Hurley promised NHS dental contract reform was on the way but that it, “must meet the needs of modern dentistry”.

Dentistry must take its rightful place as part of a package leading towards a patient-centric, preventive NHS that aims for population health to ‘start well’ and ‘age well’, including digitally integrated care across all healthcare providers. Ms Hurley also spoke about access to care switching from an ‘acute setting to closer to home’.

The NHS is pulling together the stats across all dental contract initiatives taking place throughout the UK, and using them to create the framework for a new, more effective contract based on hard evidence, not myth or hearsay, and thus establish sound conditions for successful contract reform.

She explained that there are currently more than 100 prototypes in place, with Wave 4 joining during the time span October 2018 to June 2019. The preventive pathway, Ms Hurley explained, is at the heart of the program, and the final model will be a blend of capitation and units of activity.

Both patients and dental care professionals like the direction the new contract is taking, however, pointed out the CDO, future NHS dentistry will not just be about dentistry and dental health. As part of a more holistic approach it will be part of the alignment of NHS activities and resources to ‘the benefit of patients and population health improvement as a whole’.

Professor Jimmy Steele’s vision in 2009 had prevention at its heart – and a number of the early initiatives that were originally blue sky thinking and impractical are now coming to fruition.

“It might not be happening at a pace we like,” she promised, “but it is happening. We might be moving at the pace of the slowest member of the team, but we must move forward as a team.”