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Title: Exploring the attitudes of stakeholders in the dental community in the Netherlands and the UK towards Direct Access
Author: Northcott, Andy
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 6040
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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Dentists have traditionally been the sole gatekeepers to the delivery of primary care dental services. Direct Access, a measure that allows Dental Care Professionals to see patients without a referral from a Dentist, is a fundamental change to this long-standing principle. This thesis systematically explores the attitudes of stakeholders across the micro, meso and macro levels of dentistry towards Direct Access in two distinct health care systems, the Netherlands and the UK.Direct Access was introduced in the Netherlands in 2006 and subsequently introduced in the UK in 2013. This study uses a qualitative approach to explore the attitudes towards the introduction of Direct Access in both of these states. It presents the results of semi-structured interviews with 74 participants (individually or as part of a group) including Students, Dental Care Professionals and Dentists at the micro-level, representatives of Professional Associations, Insurers and Dental Schools at the meso-level and Policy Makers at the macro-level. The results of this study show a significant range of attitudes towards Direct Access, but reveal a degree of consensus within individual stakeholder groups towards the reform’s introduction and impact. Dental Care Professionals interpret the introduction of Direct Access as recognition of their capabilities and expect it to primarily benefit patients through access to care and expertise. Dentists were more likely to view the introduction of Direct Access in terms of competition or professional persecution, with the impacts considered from a professional or financial viewpoint. Policy Makers saw potential for Direct Access to realign dental workforces and services to contemporary care needs. Attitudes at the meso level demonstrated the greatest variety and were more influenced by the idiosyncrasies of their respective health care system. In comparing the attitudes towards Direct Access in the Netherlands and the UK there were several differences, such as in the support of the Direct Access by Principal Dentists, however many of these can be explained by differences in healthcare funding and the time difference between the two reforms. Despite these differences stakeholders in both states felt that while Direct Access had the potential to create significant impacts on a range of issues (including professional competition, patient access to care, the reduction of care costs to patients and the state, the redistribution of dental tasks and the remodelling of the dental workforce) it was unlikely to do so in either the Netherlands or the UK. Flaws in the Direct Access regulations, legal obstructions to crucial procedures and imbalances in street-level professional power were perceived to obstruct Direct Access. Rather than revolutionising dental services Direct Access has been implemented selectively in the interest of dental practices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Direct Access ; Dentists ; Dentistry ; Dental Care Professionals ; Health Policy ; Public Health ; Qualitative Research