John Milne: Our system of putting targets before health must change


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The Independent Online

We are professionals and the public should be able to rely on us to behave accordingly.

This survey seems to show that a small number of practitioners are not living up to expectations. They do themselves, their patients and the profession no favours.

Poor practice only invites greater regulation. We're already seeing an expansion of regulation with the Care Quality Commission, a body which lacks any dental expertise. Inappropriate, ineffective, duplicative regulation is a waste of time and resources.

While it's tempting to cry "regulatory failure" in response to a report like this, thought must be given to the reasons behind it. I know from my everyday practising life in Wakefield, and from talking to colleagues, the pressures NHS dentists are under in a system that puts targets before health. That system needs to be replaced with one that makes health the target. The process of making that change seems to have begun with the launch of pilots for a new contract last month. The sooner we can get something better in place, the better things will be for dentists and our patients.

The writer is a dentist and chair of the British Dental Association's General Dental Practice Committee