Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have been responsible for commissioning primary dental care services in their local area since April 2007.
Several PCTs have also commissioned NHS Direct to help them provide this service to dental patients. Together, NHS Direct and PCTs provide access and support to dental services, including an out of hours service, and emergency dental service.
There are five NHS Direct centres located around the country providing this service. They combine specialist local knowledge, professional support, and health expertise to provide two levels of dental care services to PCTs.
These services are:
call streaming, and
dental call streaming and nurse assessment.
NHS Direct uses a dedicated telephone number to receive calls for the commissioned dental service. Calls are then assessed by NHS Direct health advisors using special dental streaming guidelines developed by NHS Direct. Using these clinical assessment techniques, patients can be effectively directed to emergency or routine dental care.
Dental call streaming and nurse assessment
In addition to dental call streaming, NHS Direct can provide detailed dental nurse assessment.
Adding this level of assessment provides patients with self care advice, pain relief and support with oral hygiene which reduces the demand on emergency dental services.