NHS Update: Revised clinical standards

31 May 2023

Sara Hurley, chief dental officer for England, outlines the recent changes in NHS guidelines and announces events happening in May 2023.

Sara Hurley, chief dental officer for England, outlines the recent changes in NHS guidelines and announces events happening in May 2023.

Sara opened the bulletin by confirming that she will leave her role by the end of June.

She went on to discuss some of her key memories. When Sara started, she said it was time to “put the mouth back in the body”. To achieve this goal, she launched programs including “Starting Well, Dental Check by 1, Advancing Dental Care, Mouthcare Matters”.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was felt at every level of the dental sector. Sara congratulated colleagues on the steps they have made towards recovery. She said, “Every member of the dental teams” have worked hard and shown “commitment to patients”.

The CDO mentioned the “renewed dental system reform programme” and the “challenges” which still need to be faced. Looking to the future, Sara said, “The task now is to continue to reform the contract, prioritise those most in need and drive forward prevention as an integral offer to NHS patients.”

Since the Health Select Committee announced the Dental Plan on April 25, 2023, Sara said she has been “pressing for an increase in the pace of dental system reform”. She has also been working on completing the “publication of the clinical standards that underpin the quality of care you deliver whilst addressing inequality.”

Publication of revised Clinical Standards

Sara announced the publication of three revised documents for NHS commissioned services. They are:

National Smile Month

Between May 15 and June 15, 2023, the campaign champions good oral health and promotes “the value of a healthy smile.”

The Oral Health Foundation’s theme for 2023 is 'Brush for better health'.

The bulletin then outlined the four key messages it will promote to patients:

  1. Brush teeth for two minutes, last thing at night and one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste.
  2. “Clean between your teeth every day.
  3. “Cut down on how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
  4. “Visit a dentist regularly.”

For more information visit Take part | Oral Health Foundation (dentalhealth.org)

Nitrous oxide: legitimate uses and appropriate controls

In March 2023, the government responded to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Nitrous Oxide Updated Harms Assessment. Following the report’s release, dental teams raised concerns over the future of conscious sedation.

Sara explained that she believes the appropriate medical use of Nitrous oxide will continue as stated in the government response that “it is not our desire to inhibit its use for legitimate purposes”, for instance, dental anxiety and complex treatments. However, she cautioned colleagues to “remain mindful of the potential impact of the use of nitrous oxide on staff and the environment.”

For further advice, Sara encouraged staff to read NHS England’s ‘Guidance on minimising time weighted exposure to nitrous oxide in healthcare settings in England’ and the ‘Clinical guide for dental anxiety management’.  

NHS England’s Dental Education Reform Programme

The scheme aims to develop a “consistent two-year Early Years Postgraduate Dental Training pathway, combining capabilities from Dental Foundation Training and Dental Core Training year one.” It is expected to be complete by September 2024.

To establish the “landscape and potential future training opportunities”, NHS England is surveying Community Dental Service (CDS) or Dental Core Training (DCT) providers.

For more information visit https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?id=K5Gn_5ewMUGcD9DoB1Wyq9hTrIqEFK5JnUjMaVUrz9hUNzIwRVBWVUxFNFIzUzc4VDRXNUs1Uk9ESyQlQCN0PWcu

Sustainable dentistry: A healthy smile should not cost the earth

Sara encouraged dental teams to consider implementing the ‘Clinical guidelines for environmental sustainability in dentistry’.

Practices can also register with Green Impact Dentistry to access its toolkit featuring advice for improving social and environmental sustainability.

Our NHS at 75 – telling your story through the lens

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, the NHS has teamed up with Fujifilm. Together they are creating an exhibition for colleagues and volunteers to share their stories through photography.

The judging panel will choose five winners (one per category) to be displayed at “NHS’s 75th anniversary service at Westminster Abbey” on July 5, 2023.

All the winning images and 70 commended entries will be displayed in a dedicated exhibition in London.

For more information visit https://www.nhs75-fujifilm.com/