Skip to main content

Can GPs refuse to treat dental abscesses?

I was asked by the professional magazine Pulse to discuss the question of whether GPs can refuse to treat dental abscesses.

A study published in 2016 reported that around 600,000 consultations annually with GPs are for dental problems. Reasons why people present to GPs with dental problems include the poor provision of NHS dental services in many parts of England and the £19.70 charge that some patients must pay for a dental consultation. If you decide that your patient may have a dental abscess, assuming there are no red flags (such as signs of spreading infection or sepsis) that would warrant an urgent referral for emergency hospital assessment, then the patient should be informed that they need to see a dentist. You should explain to the patient that a dentist is trained to treat dental abscesses but you are not. The dentist has the expertise and equipment needed to assess the patient, carry out suitable investigations (such as dental radiographs), and drain the abscess if this is required. The dentist can also treat any underlying problems, through procedures such as root canal treatment or a tooth extraction, to minimise the risk of recurrence of the abscess. You should also explain to the patient that issuing an antibiotic is an inadvisable course of action for GPs for someone with a suspected dental abscess as this won’t address the underlying problem; may mask symptoms and result in a worse long-term outcome for the patient; and will encourage the development of antimicrobial resistance. If the patient does not have a regular dentist, inform them they can call NHS 111 or use the NHS Choices website to find the location of local services for emergency dental treatment. It is NHS England and NHS commissioners, and not GPs, who are responsible for ensuring the population has access to adequate NHS dental services. This includes access to services for emergency dental treatment.

The published article can be read in Pulse, along with the views of two other doctors.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Improving discharge planning in NHS hospitals

Factors that need to be considered in discharge planning that have been identified in previous projects include:

Ensuring that discharge arrangements are discussed with patients, family members and carers; and that they are given a copy of the discharge summary.Adequate coordination between the hospital, community health services, general practices, and the providers of social care services.There is a follow-up after discharge of patients at high risk of complications or readmission - either in person or by telephone - to ensure that the discharge arrangements are working well. Medicines reconciliation is carried out. This is the process of verifying patient medication lists at a point-of-care transition, such as hospital discharge, to identify which medications have been added, discontinued, or changed from pre-admission medication lists.Ensuring that any outstanding test results at discharge are obtained and passed on to primary care teams; and ensuring there are clear arrangements …

Can GPs issue private prescriptions to NHS patients?

The NHS prescription charge in England is currently £8.40 per item. At this level, many commonly prescribed drugs will cost less than the prescription charge and so some NHS patients may occasionally ask if they can have a private prescription rather than an NHS prescription.

In the past, some GPs have been advised that they could issue both an NHS FP10 and a private prescription, and let the patient decide which to use. But the British Medical Association's General Practice Committee has obtained legal advice that said under the current primary care contract, GPs in England may not issue a private prescription alongside or as an alternative to an NHS FP10 prescription. In any consultation where a GP needs to issue an FP10, the concurrent issue of a private prescription would be a breach of NHS regulations.

The issuing of a private prescription in such circumstances could also be seen as an attempt to deprive the NHS of the funds it would receive from the prescription charge. Fur…

What impact will Brexit have on the UK's life sciences sector?

On Thursday 3 November 2016, I spoke at a seminar at the Imperial College Business School on the topic of the impact of Brexit on the UK's life sciences sector (the NHS, universities, and pharmaceutical and biomedical companies). I emphasised the important role played in the life sciences sector by EU-trained professionals and the need to ensure that the UK continued to attract highly-qualified professionals to work, for example, in our National Health Service. I also discussed the need to increase spending on research and development to ensure that the UK remained a world leader in the biomedical industry. The other speakers at the seminar were Andrew Lansley (former Secretary of State for Health) and Richard Phillips (Director of Healthcare Policy at the Association of British Healthcare industries). The event was chaired by Andrew Brown. A copy of my talk can be viewed on Slideshare.