'Minefield' of problems in UK dentistry must be addressed, senior practitioner warns

BDA chair says 'chaos' and 'fiasco' of previous reforms must not be repeated

A "minefield" of potential problems lies ahead for dentistry in the UK which could have dramatic implications for patients, a senior dentist warned today.

Dr Susie Sanderson, chair of the British Dental Association’s Executive Board, used her speech at the 2012 British Dental Conference and Exhibition to warn that dental care is facing a series of threats that could undermine patient care in the next few years. She urged the Government to pay "close attention" to a number of “crucial” issues.

The "chaos" of 2006, when new primary care trust structures and commissioning arrangements coincided with the imposition of a new dental contract caused a "fiasco" for patients and dentists and must not be repeated in future reforms, Dr Sanderson said.

The Government must instead address both existing and developing challenges, including the transition of commissioning from local to national levels, the development of local professional networks and the need to reinforce the Dental Public Health workforce, she explained.

Dr Sanderson today also urged the Office of Fair Trading, which is expected to publish the findings of its inquiry into dentistry in May, "not to make the mistake" of misunderstanding dental care and thinking of it as a "commodity", but instead to "respect its special and complex nature".

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