Optimising Direct Access – Christopher Forrest The British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show 2019

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  Posted by: Dental Design      30th April 2019

Bringing all the profession together, the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show 2019 will provide the perfect platform for learning, networking and discovery. For dental hygienists and dental therapists, there will be an extensive trade exhibition with dental suppliers on hand to demonstrate their latest and greatest materials, technologies and oral health products. There will also be a dedicated two-day lecture programme, as well as additional theatres focusing on speciality interest areas, offering a total of 14 hours enhanced CPD.

A wide spectrum of topics and ideas relevant to dental hygienists and dental therapists will be discussed, with the chance for individuals to get involved with debates and share experiences with like-minded peers. Among those topics being explored will be Direct Access, which – when used effectively – offers an array of benefits to the dental team and patients alike. Christopher Forrest, clinical lecturer for Teesside University Dental Therapy Programme, explains:

“It has been six years since Direct Access was granted to dental hygienists and dental therapists, but it is still common for clinicians to not be using it at all, or to its full potential within practice. We are aware of certain barriers due to NHS contractual agreements, prescription-only medicines (POMs) and IR(ME)R regulations inhibiting us from becoming more independent clinicians within the restraints of our scope of practice. However, we hope that with the support of joint campaigns organised between the BADT and BSDHT, we can push for change in the near future to aid in opening access further for both NHS and private dental patients. It feels unfair that patients who pay privately for treatment can utilise Direct Access – which can also include the provision of certain POMs under a Patient Group Directive (PGD) – while NHS patients have more restricted access to service.  

“The introduction of Direct Access was not intended to replace dentists but rather, to open up services and provide further access within a multi-disciplinary team. It is comparable to triaging patients in the direction of the appropriate treatment provider. We still very much need a good relationship with other members of the dental team for appropriate referrals where treatment falls outside of the hygienist’s or therapist’s scope of practice, or if a PGD for local anaesthetic and fluoride varnish is not present.”

While it offers potential for improved patient services and streamlined professional workflows, the introduction and implementation of Direct Access has presented some challenges.

“An early challenge was acceptance within the profession,” says Chris, “and this was potentially down to a lack of education on the subject rather than ignorance. I know many dentists who have been thrilled to establish Direct Access within their practice, once they understood the full concept and potential. However, it is also important to understand the full scope of a hygienist or therapist – which is something I am continuously reminding GDPs and sometimes our own DCPs about. It is amazing to see many hygienists, therapists and, not forgetting clinical dental technicians, providing independent services and gaining true satisfaction after seeing a patient’s course of treatment from beginning to end, discussing and treatment planning as they feel appropriate.  

“For Direct Access to work, it is crucial that you understand your limitations and attend additional courses to provide you with the knowledge and skills to be able to provide full diagnosis and examination within your scope of practice. Direct Access is not just an easy option for a quick cosmetic clean with an air-polishing system! It still requires the clinician to look at the whole picture. Hygienists and therapists can mostly stay up-to-date through regular CPD courses, or otherwise may need to obtain a more specific programme of education, depending on when they qualified.”

Chris will be presenting a session on “Direct Access” in the Hygienist & Therapist Symposium on Saturday 18thMay. About his session, he comments:

“My lecture featuring at the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show will focus on the most important skills needed to carry out Direct Access, as well as other aspects such as indemnity, additional education, forms etc. I’ll explore how clinicians can ethically promote services and how they can feel competent in carrying out Direct Access by utilising their skills and having an understanding of the legal implications.”

For your chance to gain fresh ideas on how to successful utilise Direct Access, as well as many other concepts and techniques, don’t miss the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show 2019. Register for free online today.


The British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show 2019 – Friday 17thand Saturday 18thMay – Birmingham NEC, co-located with DTS.


Visit www.thedentistryshow.co.uk, call 020 7348 5270

or email dentistry@closerstillmedia.com


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