Chief Dental Officer urges profession to give their views in nationwide survey

More than 18,000 NHS dentists are being urged to give their views in a nationwide survey as part of plans to reform record keeping standards.

At the Expo Health and Care Innovation conference in Manchester today, Chief Dental Officer Sara Hurley launched plans for a survey of NHS dentists across England that will use an innovative technique – known as the Delphi method – that is designed to ensure that every response counts and uses a process that leads to a consensus view based on a wide body of professional opinion.

Based on Clinical Examination and Record Keeping guidelines from the Faculty of General Dental Practice, the survey will canvas responses on areas such as patients’ contact details, treatments and payment histories.

It will also assess views on whether information should be recorded at initial, recall or at urgent appointment stages. The survey will explore views on rating elements of treatments and patients’ records.

The survey results will be used to develop a new set of guidelines on record keeping by the Office of the Chief Dental Officer, created in line with the principles of the NHS Regulatory framework.

Chief Dental Officer England Sara Hurley, said: “We are inviting dentists across the country to give us their views as part of plans to improve clinical record keeping. This nationwide survey takes an innovative approach, where every view will help shape these future changes.

“I’m urging everyone to take part so we can develop guidelines that are genuinely collaborative and reflect the consensus view of dentists.”

The plan to reform record keeping and the run a survey came from a Clinical Reference Group led by the Office of the Chief Dental Officer (OCDO) with input from the Business Services Authority and the General Dental Council.

Professor Tim Newton, Professor of Psychology as Applied to Dentistry, said: “I am delighted to be involved with this project which combines the Delphi method, in order to establish a consensus view amongst experts in the field, with a large scale survey to explore the views of dental practitioners. In this way we can engage with dentists to ensure that the standards set will truly reflect the huge commitment and professionalism of the dental teams working throughout England and continue to focus on improving quality of care for all patients.”

Paul Gray, Senior Clinical Adviser, NHS Business Services Authority, said: “We welcomed the chance to be involved with this project and will be using its expertise to message the Delphi method as widely as possible to the dental profession. The NHSBSA believes this to be a really constructive way of engaging the profession’s view on the very important area of patient clinical record standards.”

Ian Brack, Chief Executive and Registrar, General Dental Council, said: “The GDC is committed to working with our partners to work to maintain patient safety and public confidence in dental service, which will improve dental regulation in the UK. This work is an important opportunity for the dental sector to develop a consistent set of record keeping standards for dentistry – providing clarity for professionals and improving patient protection. I would encourage dental professionals to take part, and I look forward the outcomes.”

The link to the survey will be sent directly to NHS dentists in primary care via the NHS Business Services Authority from mid-September.  Once evaluated the new record standards are expected to be introduced by April 2018.

The Delphi method, addresses two thresholds: essential record keeping standards which can measure performance and aspirational standards to help clinicians with their personal quality development.

This collaborative process will ensure dentist themselves are engaged in setting essential and aspirational standards for the profession.