The NHS has come under fire from a number of authoritative voices recently. Some have criticised its very existence, but most of the more moderate viewpoints are simply looking to improve how the health service works and ensure high-quality care across the board; something that apparently is not always being provided.
In the dental sector, these problems have been highlighted by an open letter published in the Telegraph from Dr Tony Kilcoyne, a specialist in prosthodontics. It was signed by over 100 other people with connections to dentistry. These included Dr A. V. Jacobs, founder of the dental forum GDPUK, and specialist in dental public health Dr Martin Mayhew.
The letter criticised the NHS’ “Unit of Dental Activity” targets, which are thought to have led to slipping standards of care. An example given was Desmond D’Mello, a former dentist who had to deal with huge volume targets that left him with little to no time to clean up properly between patients.
This ended up leading to the biggest patient recall in NHS history, with over 22,000 people having to be given HIV and hepatitis tests. It is Dr Kilcoyne’s opinion that this is a result of dentists being under considerable pressure to meet the targets set for them.
“It is impossible for dental professionals to deliver this quality of service nationally with the current limitations,” the open letter reads. “Nor is it likely to be possible under any political party in these times of austerity.”
Dr Kilcoyne authored a letter one year ago that raised some similar concerns. However, action does not seem to have been taken in this area, and the over 100 dental professionals that signed the open letter evidently see that a lot more can be done in future.
In the letter in the Telegraph, Dr Kilcoyne said: “Politicians must stop fostering unrealistic expectations, and should develop a national 20-year plan based around prevention. They must also recognise that dental professionals need to be allocated protected time to see each patient, not high-volume targets.”