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DDRB: Day of Rest?
It’s now official, healthcare services are consumer-led in terms of demand for the ‘service’ element. I’m a stakeholder in the provision of dental services on several angles: I’m a practitioner, I’m an adviser but I’m also a patient. This gives me a balanced view.
The normality of working over the weekends is fast approaching, as the Government is promising 24/7 access to NHS services. For the first time, it is acknowledged that this means dentistry too. One can see the argument from both sides, especially as the demand for obtaining treatment outside of normal working hours is rising. If you want a busy practice – offer evenings and weekends. If you want the future to hold more empty chair-time then open at 9am and close at 5pm!
The problem is the heavy-handed way the Department of Health is dealing with all professionals involved. According to BDJ In Practice:
“The British Dental Association (BDA) remains unconvinced that a seven day service for dentistry is financially or logistically viable, given the constraints faced across the NHS in terms of money and staff resources. The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, announced a six week negotiating period, which has been dubbed an unrealistic time-frame for such a drastic service re-design and a potential threat to patient care. In his speech at the King’s Fund, Hunt added: "Be in no doubt: if we can’t negotiate, we are ready to impose a new contract." The BDA has welcomed the DDRB report recommendation of the need for “employers and their consultant workforces to work together and agree the detail of any contractual change”.
Peter Dyer, Chair of the BDA’s Central Committee for Hospital Dental Services, stated: “A slogan cannot be turned into a policy simply by repetition.
In General Dental Practice there are employment laws to consider too. A person can’t be made to work on Sundays unless they and their employer agree, putting this in writing (e.g. amending the contract). It’s a minefield, because staff who opt out of Sunday working mustn’t be treated unfairly. An employee can’t be dismissed or treated in an unfavourable way for choosing not to work on Sundays.
I once did a survey of patients to find out how to balance my working life with demand for appointments. The most popular times were 7.00am to 9.00 am and Saturday mornings. We duly applied these and worked out rotas for staffing this, which was difficult, especially for young staff with children. However, we already had a good working relationship within the practice and I actually left it to them to sort out who was going to support the new hours – we never had a glitch.
Work within the HR advice from Quality Compliance Systems policies. Work towards creating and maintaining a good working relationship with staff. Work towards providing a service that pleases patients. Win/Win/Win.
Dr John Shapter – QCS Expert Dental Contributor