Changes to the future provision of Health Service orthodontic treatment in Northern Ireland must be fully explained to patients waiting for care, the BDA has advised.
The General Dental Services (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 will see the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN) being used to decide which cases will be funded by the Health Service. The new regulations, expected to take effect from July 2011, will stipulate that Health Service orthodontic treatment will be restricted to patients who score 3.6 or more on the IOTN scale.
The British Dental Association believes it is also important to use a common sense approach for adjudicating on borderline or exceptional cases with IOTN lower than 3.6.
Peter Crooks, Chair of the BDA Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, said: "The use of IOTN for assessing eligibility for Health Service orthodontic treatment represents a significant change for patients. Undoubtedly some patients with an expectation of orthodontic care will be disappointed that they will not be eligible for treatment on the health service, so it's vital that DHSSPS ensures that patients understand what the index means for them. Itâ€™s also important that a common sense approach to adjudicating on borderline cases is adopted. Savings made from restricting the provision of orthodontics must be reinvested back into primary dental services. With the costs associated with providing dental care rising dramatically, that investment is more important than ever in meeting the requirements of dental practice."