The British Dental Association (BDA) has claimed that rolling out a seven day dentistry service would pose huge problems logistically and financially.
This week, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced plans to drastically overhaul the health service and said that discussions were about to begin to thrash out the terms of a new framework.
In a speech to the King’s Fund, Mr Hunt said: “Be in no doubt, if we can’t negotiate, we are ready to impose a new contract.”
The reforms have already come under fire from leading health bodies, who are alarmed that practitioners will only have six weeks to negotiate how the new set-up should work.
The BDA believes this is a totally unrealistic timetable, particularly given the grave issues of staffing and funding facing the health service.
Peter Dyer, chair of the BDA’s central committee for hospital dental services, said: “A slogan cannot be turned into a policy simply by repetition.
“In hospital, we do not believe that credible evidence has been established about the pay implications of implementing seven day working, and how this will impact on consultants, and other dentists.
“Furthermore, no indication has been given as to how the rest of the NHS and wider social care provision will be reorganised to provide appropriate care and support for patients.
“For consultants to be asked to work and, for instance, to find themselves without access to specialised dental radiography cannot be considered to be in the benefits of either consultants or patients.”
Mick Armstrong, the BDA’s chairman, said that surgeries had previously been required to open on days and at times when there was no demand from patients. He feared that the latest policy was similarly “short-sighted” and would serve no functioning purpose.