Dental hygienists and therapists to gain ‘greater powers’ following public consultations


  Posted by: Dental Design      28th March 2024

The Department of Health and Social Care and its Parliamentary Under Secretary, Andrea Leadsom MP, have announced plans to streamline processes within dental and pharmacy settings and improve patient experiences by granting ‘new powers’ to dental hygienists and dental therapists, as well as pharmacy technicians, following two public consultations.

The move will reportedly help to free up access to care for patients across dental practices and pharmacies while building on efforts to improve access to primary care, including through Pharmacy First and the Dental Recovery Plan.

Primary Care Minister Andrea Leadsom has announced dental hygienists and dental therapists will be able to supply and administer medicines, including pain relief and fluoride – without sign off from a dentist. This, in theory, will free up more time for dentists, allowing them to deliver more patient-facing clinical services and improving access to primary care services for patients.

The announcement is part of the latest series of measures the government has brought forward to cut waiting lists and improve access to primary care, which includes the publication of the Dental Recovery Plan, which aims to free up 2.5 million more appointments this year, and the expansion of the Pharmacy First scheme, which enables pharmacists to treat seven common conditions, and will reportedly free up to 10 million GP appointments per year.

There are currently over 25,500 pharmacy technicians working in pharmacies across England, Scotland and Wales, while there are 9,733 dental hygienists and 6,198 dental therapists currently registered with the General Dental Council in the UK.

Primary Care Minister Andrea Leadsom added: “We want to give patients faster, simpler and fairer access to the care they need, when they need it – and giving these powers to pharmacy technicians, dental therapists and hygienists will do just that. Today’s announcement shows we are continuing to deliver on our promises made to improve access to primary care for all, building on the government’s long term ambitions, including through the Dental Recovery Plan and the expansion of the Pharmacy First Scheme.

“We want to ensure our fantastic staff are recognised for the vital work that they do, working to their full scope of practice and delivering for everyone who walks through their doors.”

Miranda Steeples, President of The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, said: “BSDHT welcomes plans to enable our professions to work to the full extent of their skillset and give them new powers that enable them to offer patients the care they need. Everyone will benefit from an oral healthcare team that runs more smoothly and uses its time effectively.”

Update – We caught up with Miranda to discuss the news and what it means:


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