NHS App and website to help “make the system simpler” in plan to recover dentistry

The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England have published ‘Our plan to recover and reform NHS dentistry’, setting out plans to prevent poor oral health, to boost access and activity, and to support and develop the dental workforce, with digital means noted to play a role in sharing information for patients on increased access.

“Clear opportunities” within NHS dentistry for increasing efficiencies and improving digital capacity to “make the system simpler for the dental workforce and for patients” are noted within the plan. In order to enhance the patient experience and reduce “unnecessary bureaucratic burdens”, NHSE and DHSC share a pledge to establish and work with a new stakeholder reference group for dentistry and oral health, with a view to identifying the changes “that would make the greatest difference” to practices providing NHS care along with their patients.

The plan describes the introduction of a new patient premium in March this year, with digital tools to support patients in gaining access to NHS treatment. This new time-limited scheme will see dental practices offered an additional payment for each new patient requiring treatment, aiming to support individuals who have not been able to receive NHS dental care over the past two years. Patients will be able to see which practices in their area are accepting new patients via the NHS website or NHS App, with both mediums to provide the public with guidance on eligibility along with further details on the scheme.

Monthly data has started to get published on local NHS dental activity at ICB level, with the plan stating that NHSE and DHSC will also publish new workforce data early this year with the aim of supporting ICBs with their commissioning function, including employment and working trends. The possibility of publishing data on community dental services is being considered, with the plan noting that opportunities “to link to other community data sets and help join-up of local services” will be explored.

The plan can be found in full here.

Last year, we shared a deep dive into the digital landscape for dentistry along with community pharmacy, exploring news, use cases, educational opportunities and research.

In other news, last week we took a look at the latest board papers from NHS England which examine the digital portfolio across the NHS, with focus on the federated data platform, primary care, NHS App and more.

In January we reported the publication of a prior information notice for the provision of ‘Tiger Teams’ to support electronic patient record delivery, with these teams defined as partners to “create an experienced, multi-skilled, rapid response intervention service”.