Looking Beyond UDAs

Looking Beyond UDAs

If everything goes to plan for Wes Streeting, by Monday 8th July 2024 he will be Minister of State for Health and Social Care. It will be a busy day, but he has already spoken about one of the things on his ‘to do’ list: “So we’re going to have to negotiate a new dentistry contact. I’ve committed to getting the BDA in on the Monday after the general election if we win because I see it as that big a priority.”

Even with the best will in the world, the UDA contract will last a little longer while the details of any successor take shape. “Putting the mouth back in the body” is likely to be a feature of any new NHS dental system for general practice. So whether or not UDA’s live to fight another day, or capitation returns, one ICB’s newly announced pilot scheme may shed some light on the shape of things to come.

Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB have set out details of their Hypertension Dental Practice Pilot.

Funding has now been received for the project, which will pilot case finding for hypertension. Up to nine dental practices across selected areas within the ICB will be able to participate.

A meeting has been held to talk about the pilot, answer questions, and explain the process for expressions of interest.  The aim of the pilot is to help identify people with high blood pressure who do not have a current diagnosis. There is a concern that many who would benefit from treatment are slipping through the net, and this group will include some who engage with dental practices but do not visit their GP or other health services.

To investigate this, NHS England will fund local areas to pilot offering blood pressure readings in dental settings to priority groups. These are those with no existing hypertension diagnosis, who are aged 40 and over, and are living in deprived areas.

Participating practices will receive £15 per blood pressure check, up to a total of £3120, and a single set up fee of £440. Beyond any financial reward, practices will be able to contribute to improving the health of their population, by identifying patients who may be in need of potentially life-saving treatment.  

The practices taking part will need to have at least two nominated team members taking the readings, who will be required to attend a brief training course. This will be provided by the ICB, as will blood pressure monitors. Practices will also be expected to promote blood pressure readings by displaying promotional materials provided by the ICB, as well as sensitively approaching individuals meeting the criteria for the pilot.

There will be an agreed data set for each reading and once taken, advice will be offered based upon an agreed care pathway.

Participants will also be expected to take part in an evaluation of the project. This is likely to involve a brief questionnaire after completing the training and another brief questionnaire or short interview about their experience of delivering the service.

Commenting on the pilot Essex LDC said: “We feel that it is a sensible approach featuring skill-mix. It will be important to evaluate outcomes and to see if this pilot leads to a longer-term commitment. If successful, it could be adapted to cover other health priorities such as diabetes or obesity.”

The ICB were invited to comment, but had not responded by the time of publication.

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