What Is Needed From The Health Secretary? Indemnifiers' View

What Is Needed From The Health Secretary? Indemnifiers’ View

Wes Streeting, now confirmed as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has kept his promise of offering the BDA an early meeting to discuss NHS dentistry. It is no secret that both parties see alternatives to the UDA contract as a means of improving the availability of NHS dentistry. But that alone will not be enough to “fix” things.

Towards the end of June 2024, Indemnifier MDDUS announced a pre election hustings webinar for its members. Here they would be, “joined by candidates from across the political spectrum, including potential government ministers, to discuss key healthcare issues.” They had even secured the services of the electoral legend, political scientist Professor Sir John Curtice, to chair the session.

Two days before it was due to take place, MDDUS announced that the webinar had been cancelled: “Unfortunately, some political candidates were no longer able to participate in this discussion, which regretfully led us to this decision.”

This rebuff has not silenced the organisation, and they have now published “5 key asks of a new government.” Based on member surveys conducted from 2020 to 2024 this wish list should be essential reading for anyone hoping to improve the state of UK healthcare.

  •  Address the burnout and wellbeing crisis among doctors and dentists

    •    Act to halt the exodus of doctors and dentists from the NHS

    •    Accelerate reform of all professional regulators, especially the GDC

    •    Recognise and support International Medical Graduates and stamp out racism in the workplace

    •    Reinforce the zero-tolerance policy towards those who threaten, assault and abuse healthcare professionals.

Readers may not be surprised to see the GDC get a special mention, but that an organisation dealing with Doctors and Dentists working across all sectors of their profession, has name checked the dental regulator, should provoke some reflection within 37 Wimpole Street.

Expanding on the third of their 5 asks, MDDUS have more to say. While they acknowledge that there is a framework for reform of the regulators it is, “flawed.”

When it comes to the GDC they say: “Reform of the General Dental Council must also be prioritised. The legislation that governs the GDC is no longer fit for purpose, as the regulator itself rightly points out. We frequently hear from dentists about their concerns and general professional unease with decisions forced on their regulator by this framework. Indeed, fear of the GDC and litigation is often cited by dentists as one of the main causes for leaving the profession.

Delays in the fitness to practise processes are unacceptable and take a significant toll on the wellbeing of registrants. Despite the GDC’s best efforts, dental registrants can face significant delays – up to eight months - in receiving a Case Examiner decision. Constant assurances are not enough and change needs to happen now.

We call on the incoming government to prioritise reforming the outdated regulatory framework of the GDC, and to remedy ill-conceived changes to the framework that will guide the GMC.”

During the election competing politicians of all parties had the comparatively easy job of making their pitch to the electorate. Now the winners will have the more challenging task of delivering. In the words of MDDUS:

­“Doctors and dentists are currently facing some of the most challenging workplace conditions in living memory. You need a government that not only supports and values you but also listens to your concerns and takes meaningful action.”

Over to you Wes.

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