Direct access background

Direct access background

Information on this page relates to the range of information the Direct Access Task and Finish Group have reviewed, whilst finalising their proposal to Council as to whether or not direct access should be introduced or extended.

Literature review

In April 2012, the group commissioned a literature review to establish whether there was any evidence that could be used to effectively demonstrate the likely benefits and risks of introducing direct access into dentistry in the United Kingdom.

Over 100 research dental and other health-related papers were identified as relevant for this review of direct access. The quality of the evidence regarding dental access issues to dental care practitioners was varied but as a whole of moderately good quality.

The review was completed in June 2012, and the findings of this study concluded that:

a) There was no evidence of significant issues of patient safety resulting from the clinical activity of DCPs.
b) There was evidence that access to dental care improved as a result of direct access arrangements, of cost benefits to patients and of high levels of patient satisfaction.
c) There was some evidence that DCPs may over-refer patients to dentists, which may ensure patient safety but lead to wasteful use of resources and a high level of 'no shows' on referral.

The final report is available here:

Benefits and risks of direct access to treatment by dental care professionals: A rapid evidence review (PDF, 854KB)

Patient and public research

Ipsos Mori was commissioned to run a series of decorative workshops and interviews across the country with members of the public. The full report including findings, is available here:

Patient research into direct access (PDF, 957KB)

Direct access call for ideas

An online questionnaire to gather opinions on the possibilities of direct access went live on 30 March 2012 and closed on the 8 June 2012. A total of 840 people responded with their opinions. A summary of the responses is available here:

Direct access call for ideas results (PDF, 344KB)

Stakeholder feedback

On 30 April and 1 May 2012, the group met with a number of key stakeholders who had been invited to give their views on the possible introduction of direct access. On behalf of the group, GDC staff also met with DCP training providers, the chief dental officers for England and Wales and the Chair met with the Chief Dental Officer for Northern Ireland. The group subsequently held a joint meeting with the CDOs for England, Scotland and Wales.

Key points raised from some of those stakeholders can be found here:

Summary of stakeholder feedback (PDF, 375KB)

Online consultation of direct access proposals

The direct access consultation ran from 1 October to 31 December 2012. It received over 1420 responses. A summary of the consultation responses is included in the Task and Finish Group's proposal to Council.

Other sources

The group also reviewed information collected during the annual patient and public survey and registrant survey, which were conducted in June and July 2011.

Our guidance Preparing for practice which describes the outcomes that an individual must be able to demonstrate by the end of their training, in order to register with the General Dental Council as a dental professional.

The following table notes DCP training in key areas related to direct access:

DCP training (PDF, 253KB)

The Scope of practice guidance sets out the skills and abilities of each registrant group should have.

The Office of Fair Trading report Dentistry: An OFT market study published in May 2012, that discusses the benefits to patients from the introduction of direct access.