In our 2020-2022 corporate strategy, Right time, right place, right touch, we committed to a review of our Scope of Practice guidance for dental professionals, with the aim of supporting a more effective deployment of the whole dental team and facilitating inter-professional working. Today, marking the completion of the first stage of that review, we publish the report of independent research commissioned to understand a number of key issues relating to the guidance.
Our aim is for this review to provide as much flexibility to dental professionals as possible, so they are using their own professional judgement about the provision of care and their own education, development and competencies. We want any future guidance to be less prescriptive and support dental professionals’ ability to use their experience and judgement.
When the Scope of Practice guidance was first introduced, it was designed to provide dental professionals with an understanding of the types of tasks they could be expected to carry out, or skills they could develop, alongside the exercising of their professional judgement, when deciding what they were trained, competent and indemnified to do.
One of the key findings of the research is that the guidance is now not being used in the way it was intended, as a guide, but more of a task and treatment checklist for dental professionals. The research also found that the primary users of the guidance are education and training providers, employers, professional representative bodies, and less so dental professionals.
The research also found that members of the public do not feel that the guidance is relevant or necessary for them, and don’t feel that they need to have access to this type of information. However, significant worries among dental professionals and stakeholders were also identified in relation to the potential for substantial changes or if the guidance were to no longer exist, due to a concern that professionals may act out of scope.
Further work is now underway to consider the findings and understand the appropriate level of support for dental professionals in this regard, as well as the format that support should take. Once that work is complete, dental professionals will be invited to work with us on shaping our proposals for the future.