General dental practitioners' opinions on orthodontics in primary and secondary care

J A McMichael
Primary Dental Care: Journal of the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners (UK) 1997, 4 (1): 11-6
A survey of 232 general dental practitioners was undertaken by the purchasing authorities in Hereford and Worcester, England, in 1993, to establish local practitioners' views on primary and secondary care orthodontics. The response rate was 90.1%. The dentists overestimated their orthodontic case-load: 66.6% of contract holders submitted no claims for upper removable appliances (URA) treatment, but 70.8% claimed they undertook removable appliance therapy. Dentists believed orthodontics should be a feature of the General Dental Services (GDS) but did not seem inclined to commit themselves to providing it. A majority of GDPs (54.9%) felt orthodontics was uneconomic under the GDS. There was support for the treatment planning role of hospitals, but although this was available locally it did not appear to have stimulated primary care provision. Consultant outreach clinics were not generally supported but there was a desire for more opportunities for hospital clinical attachments in orthodontics. The implications for the policies of National Health Service (NHS) purchasers are considered: purchasing health authorities need to carry out systematic assessment of the views of their general dental practitioners and take account of their desired patterns of specialist provision. Policies encouraging the shift of orthodontics into primary care are called into question by this study. If demand for orthodontics is to be met, policy should concentrate on the development of hospital services and specialist practitioners.

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