New electronic specialist referral tracking system to be launched for dentistry in Wales
Patients in Wales referred for specialist dentistry care will be able to track the status of their referral online, it has been announced.
It’s part of a new digital dental referral system, funded by Welsh Government, to be rolled out from this autumn.
Benefits include a faster referral process, it is anticipated that this will shorten waiting times for patients.
The new system will replace the current paper-based process used by dentists to send referrals, which can take up to four days to be delivered by post.
It will allow dentists to refer patients needing specialist dental treatment, such as oral surgery and orthodontics, using an electronic referral process.
Higher quality information will be used to inform clinical decisions. For example, the new orthodontic referral template will support the referring dentist to calculate the need, timeliness and suitability of patients for orthodontic assessment and treatment.
Chief Dental Officer at Welsh Government, Dr Colette Bridgman said, “We are delighted to announce the award of this contract. This innovation is the culmination of considerable work and effort from a number of organisations and clinicians.
Once operational Wales will be the first country in the UK to implement a fully electronic system for dental referrals. We anticipate this will contribute towards realising our vision of accessible specialist dental care for those who need it in the most appropriate setting.”
Radiograph scanners will be offered to dental practices in Wales to ensure high-resolution images are attached to referrals and standardised referral templates will ensure consistent information is provided to NHS specialist services.
The initial three-year contract to supply the service was awarded to FDS Consultants following a robust procurement process led by the NHS Wales Informatics Service, in collaboration with Welsh Government, dental professionals, Public Health Wales and health boards.
FDS Consultants provide a similar service to a number of trusts in NHS England.
The new service becomes available from September 2018, with planned early-adopter health boards Abertawe Bro-Morgannwg University (ABMU) and Hywel Dda. The service is due to be available across Wales by January 2019.