Home' News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin September 2015 Contents 3
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE AND HEALTH RATIONING
The dispute between a major private health insurer (PHI)
and Calvary Hospital reflects the arbitrary interference in clinical
decision making by some health funds, which amounts to profit
driven rationing of healthcare. For decades dentists have witnessed
first-hand how PHIs have disregarded what is clinically appropriate
and evidence-based in favour of the insurer’s bottom line. Annual
and lifetime limits, frozen rebates for decades at a time and
exclusion of cover for some treatments have been progressively
applied to dentistry, as PHIs, particularly for profit PHIs, market
dental cover but then fail to deliver any more than token cover.
It appears some PHIs are now looking to increase their profits in
the hospital cover space too. The ADA was among the first to
support Calvary and draw attention to the breadth of profit driven
PHI behaviour. The ADA’s media release of 13 July 2015 can be
read on the ADA website.
WORKFORCE AND OVERSEAS QUALIFIED DENTISTS
The response from members to the removal of the professions of
dentist and dental specialist from the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) has
continued to be very positive. I thank all those who have contacted
the ADA and me. The SOL decision does not fix the substantial
oversupply of dental workforce now or any time in the foreseeable
future. There are several sources of Overseas Qualified Dentists
(OQD) that will not necessarily be affected by the SOL decision.
UK and Irish trained dentists can still work in Australia without any
assessment of their qualifications. There has been no reciprocity of
this recognition since 1996 when the General Dental Council (GDC)
advised that all Australian graduates after that date would have to
sit the GDC examination. Ireland has never recognised Australian
dental qualifications. It is time UK and Irish qualified dentists were
treated the same way as all other OQDs and be required to pass the
Australian Dental Council assessment and examination process. This is
a decision for the Dental Board of Australia.
WORKFORCE AND UNIVERSITY DENTAL SCHOOLS
Federal Executive met last month with Professor Chris Peck and
Associate Professor Jane Taylor as representatives of the Australian
Council of Dental Schools (ACODS). It is clear that the Heads of
Schools have little control over the student admission policies of
their universities. The ADA will have to continue to advocate at
higher levels within universities and politically to achieve its aim
of a cap on place numbers either self imposed by the universities
or set by the Commonwealth Government to limit oversupply of
dentists in Australia.
The dental schools have other issues, which have serious
implications for dental workforce. There is a shortage of academic
staff at junior levels and a high proportion of senior academics
are approaching retirement. These are issues that flow from the
funding models, which vary for each university for their dental
school. Professor Peck expressed appreciation to the many
members of the ADA who contribute to teaching across all the
dental schools, often at low rates of remuneration or pro-bono.
I question whether the present state of affairs is sustainable.
Another issue for all health professions and now significantly
for dentistry is the cost of clinical placements. Whereas in better
financial times state and territory health departments saw benefit in
supporting clinical placements, it has become clear this had become
a mechanism for transferring part of the cost of educating health
professionals from the Commonwealth to the State Governments.
Now these governments are putting a price on providing clinical
placements and it is unclear how universities can absorb these
additional costs. These additional pressures on university budgets do
not augur well for the objective of recruiting new academic staff.
DENTAL HEALTH WEEK
A major objective of the ADA is to promote oral health in the
community. One of the major public events the ADA conducts is
its ADA Dental Health Week. The theme of “The Seven Sporting
Sins” certainly captured the attention of the media and the public.
I marvel at the coverage that was able to be generated by the
event. It started well before the launch date and continues with
significant vigour. Precise statistics of the extent of the coverage
will be published in a future issue of the News Bulletin. Suffice to
say the number of media hits and coverage that were achieved
during the Week was unprecedented. Nearly every hour media
coverage of the ADA’s message was delivered to Australians. This
does not happen without the dedicated efforts of the ADA’s Oral
Health Committee and the secretariat staff coordinating the many
and varied activities that occurred. They are to be congratulated.
The resources created were exceptional and will remain on the
ADA website for you to download and use within your practice. In
particular, I commend the work done in the development of the
“No mouthguard, no play” campaign which was a joint initiative
of the ADA and Sports Medicine Australia. The joint advocacy of
the need to obtain a custom fitted mouthguard in preference to
boil and bite varieties attracted significant major print media and
electronic media coverage.
My final word for this month is please take the time to review the
Dental Board of Australia’s Guidelines on Infection Control. The
ADA Infection Control Committee is finalising a new edition of
the ADA’s Guidelines for Infection Control, accompanied by some
practical guides and a self-assessment tool for you to use in your
practice. We expect these to be available to you through the ADA
website shortly. We all have an obligation to the health and safety
of our patients.
Do you want to comment on anything I have written?
Phone: 02 9906 4412 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“The ADA Infection Control
Committee is finalising a new
edition of the ADA’s Guidelines for
Infection Control...these [will be]
available to you through the ADA
Rick Olive AM
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