Your NHS Dentistry and Oral Health Bulletin – January 2023

An Update from Ali Sparke and Rebecca Harris

Dear Vijay,


We committed as part of the July dental reform package to take action to support the development of skill mix in dentistry.


Dental team working where skill mix is widely used has been shown to be beneficial for individual clinicians, teams, practice owners and patients. However, some of the greatest benefits and flexibility in terms of skill mix have been in private dental practice where, since 2013, dental care professionals (DCPs) have been able to work privately to their full scope of practice, providing direct access to patients without people needing to see a dentist first.


As part of 2022/2023 NHS dental contract reform, we sought clarity on the effects of the GDC’s legal and guidance framework, worked with the Department of Health and Social Care to review the Regulations, and obtained legal advice to clarify legal and regulatory positions about Direct Access to care from DCPs within NHS primary dental services.


NHS England is satisfied that dental therapists (DTs) and dental hygienists (DHs) can provide direct access to NHS care where that care is within the GDC scope of practice, if they are qualified, competent, and indemnified to do so.


We’ve taken forward changes to the FP17, been made as of October, and are pleased to announce that our skill mix guidance has been published. This guidance clarifies a number of the misunderstandings that previously existed.


Building dental teams: Supporting the use of skill mix in NHS general dental practice – long guidance
Building dental teams: Supporting the use of skill mix in NHS general dental practice – short guidance
As part of the development process we’ve engaged Department of Health and Social Care, General Dental Council, and professional representative bodies for dentists, dental hygienists and dental therapists.


Further details can be found in the item below. You can also read our skills mix in dentistry blog from Jason Wong, Deputy Chief Dental Officer.


With best wishes

Ali and Rebecca