Update from the Manchester Exemptions Campaign event

After months of preparation, it was touch and go whether the DHT-UK fundraising conference for exemptions would go ahead last March. Whilst I was travelling down to Manchester, ironically Oleta Adams ‘Get Here If You Can’ played on the radio! Whilst Storm Emma was battling our shores, she certainly gave me some extra grey hairs but in the end what an amazing turnout we had from the profession. Even with some ‘hiccups’, we came together as a profession and stepped up to offer support. Unfortunately, Siobhan Kheller was unable to attend due to flight disruption from Ireland but Fiona Sandom stepped in at the last minute to provide an update on direct access and the exemptions campaign.

I would like to personally say a huge ‘thank you’ to all involved behind the scenes and to our amazing lecturers: Amy Hills, Christine Anne MacLeavy, Elijah Desmond, Faye Donald, Fiona Sandom, Ian Dunn, Jo Dickinson, Megan Fairhall and Siobhan Kheller, for giving up their time and expenses to deliver a day of amazing lectures for this amazing project which is being steered by Fiona Sandom, BADT and Michaela ONeill, BSDHT.

I would also like to say thank you to both associations BADT and BSDHT for allowing me to get involved and to our partners in the trade: Philips, Dental Directory/MedFx, Calcivis, PlaqueHD, Waterpik, DentalSky, Curaprox, Optident, TePe, Student Loupes Company, Dental Directives, Swallow/PDT. Thank you also to Phil Ower for donation of his book Practical Periodontics, the Singing Dentist, Enlighten, BSDHT for their raffle prize and Deepak for auctioning his three day masterclass - won by Jenny Green. Without their combined support, this event would not have been possible.

DHT-UK, with all your support, managed to raise £5,200 towards the project, so a big thank you to all delegates who battled the inclement weather to attend. However, we still require your ongoing support to ensure that this project is successful.

So, how can you become involved?

Financial donations are still very much welcomed to fund joint projects to expand and develop the role of the dental hygienist and dental therapist. If you are able to support any future fundraising events, then please do. If you are not already a member, then join your professional organisation: without the strength of our members, we have a less powerful voice. When feedback and input is required please get involved, a lack of vital data prolongs the project and puts all the hard work at risk. If you feel there are any POM’s that affect your daily clinical work, and not already applied for, get in touch and let us know - prescribing@bsdht.org.uk !

Finally, and most importantly, keep an eye out for when the public consultation arrives, this is where we want to hear from your patients about their experiences, issues due to restrictions of POM’s and how it has affected their treatment and appointments.

Fiona Sandom (past BADT president) who is currently working on the project commented: “Dental therapists have been administering local anaesthetic since 1963 and dental hygienists since 1991. Local anaesthetic is a Prescription Only Medicine (PoM), so is fluoride varnish. The inability to not be able to give local anaesthetic to do a filling, root surface debridement or extract a deciduous tooth is hampering our ability to deliver patient care. In most cases our prescribing dentists include a patient specific prescription (PSD) and some have been through the difficult process of obtaining a Patient Group Direction (PGD).

However, there are times where the prescription needs to be amended, we are all working under increasing pressure, or the patient’s needs may have changed. We all have patients that are “sensitive” and cannot tolerate the scaling and you don’t know that until you start!

Dental hygienists and dental therapists being granted exemptions is a positive step in the right direction and I hope that the dental profession will help us in this process, by responding to requests for help, information and funding, so we can continue to build a robust case, improve patient care in the future; especially as we look towards the new contract and increased skill mix within dentistry.

Recently I have been asked, why we are not securing prescribing rights and going down the road of exemptions? As a dental care professional we are unable to apply for ‘prescribing rights’ and to be a prescriber; only a doctor (dentist) is able to supply and administer a drug. This means that to obtain a drug, all other allied health professionals that have ‘prescribing rights’ need it to be dispensed by a pharmacist. Reflecting on this, for local anaesthetics, the clinician would have to write a prescription, provide that prescription to the patient and for the patient to collect from a pharmacist to bring back to us in order for it to be administered. However, it is possible to have a maximum of 30 medicines that can be administered by using the exemptions framework; but the case presented needs to be a full and thorough one to ensure patient safety. Fiona and Michaela are confident that the list of medicines they are applying for will be significantly less than 30!

About the author: Chris Forrest is currently BADT North East Representative and National Conference Co-ordinator. Recently he has become a Key Opinion Leader for Acteon. Chris works two days clinically and two days for Teesside University.

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