62 practices to trial new dental contract

14 April 2011

For the first time, from this summer, dentists will be paid for the quality of the treatment they give rather than the number of treatments provided, Health Minister Lord Howe announced today.

Sixty two dental practices have been selected to trial a new dental contract that will help improve outcomes for patients. The trials are being carefully designed to improve the quality of patient care and increase access to NHS dental services with the added objective of improving the oral health of children.

This is part of the Coalition Government’s wider plans to modernise the NHS with a relentless focus on improving quality of care and patient outcomes.

The new contract will be based around capitation, registration and quality. This means that, for the first time, dentists will be rewarded for the quality of care they deliver for patients rather than the number of treatments carried out.

A new emphasis on quality – and guidelines on how to deliver it – will support dentists to improve the oral health of their patients, while the focus on registration will give patients the security of continuing care.

Three different models will be piloted across England starting in the summer. Each model will be slightly different in order to provide information and evidence on various aspects of the proposals; this will help better inform the development of the new national contract.

Health Minister Lord Howe said:

“We all want good teeth and good oral hygiene. That’s why we want our dentists to get paid for the quality of treatment they provide rather than for the number of treatments, as is the case now.

“This approach is not only better for patients, but also a better use of NHS resources.

“It is important that we take our time to get this absolutely right. We want our reforms to give dentists the encouragement they are looking for to provide a service that meets the needs of today’s population, and which fosters positive habits from an early age.”

Professor Jimmy Steele, who was a member of the National Steering Group which developed the proposals, said:

“The Adult Dental Health Survey, published last month, showed further improvements in oral health in England. We now need an NHS dental service to match; one that maintains good oral health as well as providing appropriate treatment.

“The dental contract pilots will explore how best to make this a reality but it is important to get it right, so time spent setting this up properly is time well spent.”


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