‘Direct access’ means patients having access to treatment or services provided by registered DCPs (hygienists, dental nurses or technicians) without referral by a dentist.
In May 2013 the General Dental Council reviewed their standards and after consultation decided that the requirement to carry out certain treatments under prescription would be removed.
Direct access is not compulsory in dental practices. Those who are able to and want to see patient’s directly are able to do so, but if a dentist and a dental care professional agree that they are happy with their current working arrangements, they can continue them.
At Charminster House Dental Practice we support the concept that the dentist is the leader of the dental team, who provides the initial diagnosis and treatment plan, and coordination of the care pathway, taking overall responsibility for patient care and helping the patient through their treatment journey.
For these reasons we have decided to opt out of the ‘direct access’ scheme. Therefore a prescription is required from a dentist in order for a DCP to treat a patient.
For patients who have been referred by their dentist to see the hygienist for treatment at this practice three monthly, they will require a referral letter signed by their dentist on a yearly basis. This is so that the hygienist has a clear prescription as to how and when the referring dentist would like their patient treated. The hygienist or receptionist will provide a new referral letter for the patient to give to their dentist at the appropriate intervals.
If a patient would like to see the hygienist for a scale and polish, it is our practice policy that they have been referred by a dentist either by letter or by a dentist at this practice within one year of examination.
For more information regarding direct access, please see the GDC’s website at http://www.gdc-uk.org/dentalprofessionals/standards/pages/direct-access.aspx