Select Committee on Health Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the British Association of Dental Therapists (D32)


  BADT represent Dental Therapists in the UK. Dental Therapists work to the prescription of a registered Dentist, to undertake certain aspects of oral care. These include simple fillings in both permanent and deciduous teeth, extraction of deciduous teeth using local infiltration analgesia, Scaling and polishing, and preventative procedures such as application of fissure sealants and topical fluorides. They also play an important role in educating and advising patients. There is no restriction on the age of the patient we treat.

    1.  BADT welcome the government's initiatives to improve the access to NHS dentistry. However we are a work force, which currently is being restricted from providing Oral health care to all sectors of the public; Dentists Act 1984, Dental Auxiliaries Regulations 1986 as amended.

    2.  Dental Therapists can offer a wide range of skills, which would be suitable to provide oral health care to all types of patients not those who are eligible to be seen in the community dental services, where the majority of Dental Therapists are employed; Dentists Act 1984, Dental Auxiliaries Regulations 1986 as amended. These skills are currently being extended under the order making power in section 60 of the Health Act 1999.

    3.  Dental Therapists are a dedicated work force. Only 70 per cent enrolled on the GDC are working as Dental Therapists: (The working practice and job satisfaction of Dental Therapists, D E Gibbons et al BDJ VOL 189 No 8 28 October 2000), this is a very small percentage of those who have qualified as Dental Therapists. These qualified Dental Therapists possessing these skills are being lost due to lack of employment opportunities.

    4.  The recently announced Dental Access Centres; (Press Release by Lord Hunt dated 3.11.2000) will not address the under utilisation of a Trained dental workforce (Dental Therapists) in providing an obvious need. Therefore these skills are being lost and would need commitment from the profession and the individual, also funding to enable them to return to the workforce in the future. Where is the sense in this when the need is now.

    5.  It was interesting to read that the Government is going to "make the most of the talents of its entire workforce" (Modernising NHS Dentistry—Implementing the NHS Plan, September 2000, 4.41) BADT have yet to see any evidence of this, despite the recommendations made in the Nuffield report into the education and training of Personnel Auxiliary to Dentistry, September 1993; and the Dental Auxiliaries review Group report. General Dental Council May 1998 5.6.

    6.  The General Dental Council (the Council) in May 1999 agreed to seek approval for the removal of the restriction in the Dentists Act and Dental Auxiliaries Regulations, which prevent Dental Therapists from working in all sectors of dentistry. This recommendation from the profession needs to be implemented urgently to allow Dental Therapists to have comparability and equal rights with the other members of the dental team.

    7.  BADT feel this is an exciting time for Dentistry, as an association we have always strived to improve quality and Dental Therapists are well known for their quality of work. But we feel we are not fully included in these new developments.

January 2001

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