The College of General Dental Practitioners Singapore (CGDP) has set up a committee to explore alternatives to the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s proposal to enforce a new policy which will exclude general dental practitioners from carrying out procedures labelled by the Ministry as specialist-level, regardless of the general dentists’ experience and level of expertise.
The committee will be “exploring options such as mentoring, supervision of procedures, and clinical guidelines that will provide a well-balanced solution”, according to CGDP in a statement on Sun (5 May).
The College expressed its hope that the proposed alternatives to the policy will “balance our patients’ need for safety, affordability, and access to care, as well as allow general dentists to undertake procedures within their training, expertise and experience”.
CGDP also urged MOH and the Singapore Dental Council (CDC) to “clear the air and explain to the profession the justifications and detailed supporting data for the proposed policy”, as well as “the key features of the proposed policy and how it would impact general dentists, and possible solutions or mitigating measures in relation to likely increases in costs for patients as well as compliance costs for dentists, and the alternative options that are being or have been considered”.
In challenging MOH’s proposal to exclude general dentists from performing specialist-level procedures, CGDP said: “Many general dentists have on their own accord undergone further training to perform many advanced procedures competently and safely, and have been doing so for many years.
“The College is worried that if general dentists are now prohibited from performing advanced procedures, the cost to patients will increase significantly as they will only be able to receive treatment from specialists.
“Furthermore, there may be bottlenecks and longer waiting times to see specialists, which will compromise our patients’ treatment,” said the College.
CGDP stressed that “no official consultation paper has been issued, and the discussions of the MOH or SDC committee on the proposed policy have not been made available to the profession generally”, which has become the source of apprehension for many non-specialist dental professionals.
“The College understands that one of the prime motivations for the proposed policy is an increase in complaints by patients, but the relevant data on complaints or disciplinary cases specifically involving general dentists attempting procedures outside their sphere of competence is not available.
“All this could have led to misinformation, misunderstanding and speculation,” warned CGDP.
The College added: “Adopting a blunt and mechanistic classification to exclude general dentists from what has for many years been an important part of their professional practice, when they can obtain the appropriate training, expertise and experience to perform them, will ultimately be detrimental to our patients and unfair to general dentists.”