New Initiative Reduces Waiting Times for Paediatric Dental Care

A network of Community Dental Services CIC (CDS) Support Practices has been established in the East Midlands to relieve the pressure on waiting times for paediatric patients in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. They are being operated by leading community dental provider, CDS and general dental practices in the East Midlands. The aim of the Support Practices is to deliver a high-quality service for children requiring level one care. 

Covid-19 caused significant interruptions to dental care and many children have not seen a dentist leading to increased dental need among this group. Teams in the practices have been supported to treat patients that may otherwise only have been able to access care through the community dental service. Paediatric patients referred to CDS are triaged and assessed for suitability for care in a Support Practice, enabling them to be seen and treated more quickly. It has increased capacity for the teams in CDS to treat more complex paediatric and special care patients, also reducing the time they are waiting for appointments.  

Prior to starting to treat CDS referral patients, the dentists from the Support Practices receive online training with the Midlands Paediatric Team and a hands-on study day. Dentists take part in regular peer review sessions and are invited to attend the paediatric MCN meetings. 

Milan Chande, Principal Dentist at The Dental Wellness Centre, in Leicester said, “Being a CDS support practice has been really rewarding and has upskilled the team. We usually see patients who require multiple restorations, silver Diamine Fluoride, Hall crowns or extractions. It is fantastic to know we have done something to improve the oral health of the child and have given them a positive dental experience.” 

Nicola Milner, Chief Operating Officer for CDS in the East Midlands said, “During the Covid-19 pandemic, we were used as an Urgent Care Site for Covid positive patients. This led to a significant backlog of patients waiting for an assessment appointment. Transferring level 1 patients to the Support Practices allows us to focus on treating the more complex paediatric patients who really need our specialist care and reduces the waiting time for appointments. We are incredibly grateful to all our partner Support Practices in Leicestershire, Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire and we have really appreciated working with them to treat these paediatric patients.” 

CDS carefully selects the referrals being sent to the Support Practices to ensure they need Level 1 care. The practices carry out a course of treatment, then discharge the children back to their GDP. The Support Practices help children to build up an acceptance and tolerance of treatment, making it easier to care for them in the future in general practice.  

376* patients have been transferred over to the Support Practices, who treat children who are referred from CDS or 111, or Looked After Children who have been identified as needing a review of their oral health needs. 

*Data up to the end of April 2024