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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin November 2010
20 NOVEMBER 2010 Dental practice in Australia is subject to a large and varied amount of regulation including business regulation, occupational licensing and registration, administration, equipment licensing, billing and record keeping, infection control, continuing professional development and environmental protection. This past year has seen the introduction of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (dentists are now registered by the Dental Board of Australia) and also the first step in the e-Health initiative -- the introduction of healthcare identifiers for patients. While many health reforms have improvement in the quality and safety of Australian healthcare as their goal, there is considerable frustration with the increasing amount of red tape created from different areas, seemingly unaware of each other and the effect this has on a patient's ability to access dental care. Many of these initiatives have come about from problems in health areas that are vastly different to office based dental practice, such as large general hospitals, and so should not be applied universally to all areas of health provision such as dental practice. The Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA) is supportive of actions and processes that improve the safety and quality of dental care in Australia, as long as there is a positive cost-benefit. However, reforms have been suggested that significantly add to the administrative burden of small dental surgeries without proving if there is any benefit to the patient. Currently, the ADA is working hard with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) to demonstrate that health standards, developed and based on a medical model and which apply within a hospital setting, are not suitable for dentistry. There is still much work to be done to ensure that the new proposed regulations and standards are applicable to dentistry and will provide a benefit to patients and not just lead to more non-clinical work for dentists and their staff. "Any reform must have clear demonstrable benefits and be simple and practical to apply in practice", said ADA President, Dr Neil Hewson. "Dental treatment for disadvantaged Australians is underfunded and under-resourced, and dentistry has a workforce maldistribution problem. Only when these issues have been fixed should we focus on implementing other reforms. Adding further bureaucratic layers to an already safe profession is not benefiting patients or practitioners. New regulations need to be cost effective, simple and relevant. The essentials need to be worked on before new reforms take place", said Dr Hewson. The dental health of a patient ultimately comes down to a working partnership between a dentist and the patient. No amount of administrative processes can alter this and, it may in fact distract from it -- reforms put in place need to recognize this. It is questionable whether reforms as proposed in discussion papers, such as patient centred care and peer review, will improve patient safety and quality of treatment in office based dental practice. Source: National Dental Update, October 2010. The ADA National Dental Update is a monthly publication distributed to politicians and opinion leaders. Other issues can be viewed at www.ada.org.au national dental update HEALTH PRACTICE REFORM -- we all need to take a breath
ADA News Bulletin October 2010
ADA News Bulletin December 2010