Understanding how Dentistry works in the NHS can be extremely confusing. However, fear not as The Medic Portal is here to give you the information you need to understand NHS Dentistry and help you to ace any question that comes up in your Dentistry interview asking about the current NHS Dentistry system.
1) What is the current state of the NHS Dentistry?
A study published by the British Dental Association in April 2016 showed the 93% of dentists believed that government targets were standing in the way of treating patients in need. Government targets are preventing them for treating patients with high needs who require more complex treatment plans. 70% also feel that the contract is limited their ability to take on new NHS patients due to demand and also restricting the amount of time they are able to spend with their patients.
2) How might NHS Dentistry change in the coming years?
Currently, NHS Dentists want to have the pay bands changed so that Dentists are rewarded for preventative measures rather than treatments. For example, currently there is no financial incentive for Dentists to help patients improve their oral hygiene through advice and education so we might see a shift towards this in the future. Additionally, the UK sugar tax might reduce dental decay to some degree in the future.
3) Why are there NHS dental charges for patients?
Whilst the majority of NHS treatments are free, Dentistry on the NHS often requires a contribution towards the cost of a patients care. Within Dentistry there are free difference price bands, band 1 at £19.70 that covers treatment such as an examination or X-ray, band 2 at £53.90 that includes fillings, extractions and root canal treatment and finally band 3 at £233.70 that covers dentures, crowns and bridges.
Further information on these price bands can be found on the NHS website. The reason the Dentistry is not free is due to the fact that patients make a contribution similar to the cash contribution for NHS prescriptions to cover some of the cost of the equipment and materials used in treatment. Without this the national budget available for NHS dentistry would not be able to cover all of the required treatment.
4) What training is compulsory after completing a Dentistry degree to work in the NHS?
After graduating from dentistry to work in the NHS it is compulsory to complete Dental Vocational (Foundation) Training. This is where you spend one year working as a Dentist in an NHS practice and learning more about Dentistry through a qualified Dentist who is your trainer.
You complete around 25 study days on different topics and have a weekly tutorial with your trainer. All Dentists are expected to complete 250 hours of continuing professional development every five years for the duration of your career to ensure they are up to date.
5) Who is exempt from paying for NHS Dentistry?
Dental treatment on the NHS is free for all children under the age of 18 and those who are pregnant or have had a baby in the past twelve months. Additionally, those who are on income support, jobseekers allowance or have a NHS tax credit exemption certificate do not have to pay.
I hope that this has cleared up some confusion surrounding NHS Dentistry, with the career being so dynamic it is likely that we will see some changes in the near future so watch this space.