Mission Impossible: Solving the morale crisis in NHS primary care dental services…?
By Henry Clover, Chief Dental Officer at Simplyhealth Professionals
There are many issues to be resolved within the current crisis in NHS primary dental care services. Can the NHS budget for primary dental care support a high quality comprehensive service available to all? And if so, how could the NHS primary dental care services be reconfigured to meet the needs of patients and professionals? We all know there isn’t an easy solution to any of this. It’s not helped by the fact that, 12 years down the line we are still no closer to definitive NHS dental contract reform, while we await yet further prototype testing and no new contract reform now due until at least 2022.

One major issue that plays into the current crisis in NHS dentistry is that of the regulatory and litigation threats continually facing dentists and how this is impacting patient care and morale in the profession. Sadly, it’s become a statement of fact that low morale and fear are becoming endemic in dentistry. Practitioners often feel like they remain one step away from losing their livelihood. The threat of complaints, and the fear of regulatory sanction and litigation can inhibit dentists from making the right decisions – it’s not unreasonable to suggest, it can lead dentists to behave more defensively, because they can feel like they are drowning in what they feel is an over regulated profession. Previous figures from NHS Digital* have shown that complaints made about NHS dentistry in England almost doubled from 7,664 in 2015-16 to 13,493 in 2016/17. 
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