Investing to prevent: Description of an innovative approach to commissioning a supervised toothbrushing programme across multiple local authorities in England

Zoe Allen Robert Witton

Investing to prevent: Description of an innovative approach to commissioning a supervised toothbrushing programme across multiple local authorities in England

Authors: Zoe Allen Robert Witton
doi: 10.1922/CDH_001492020Allen05

Abstract

Introduction: The NHS Long Term Plan prioritises NHS action to reduce health inequalities and give children a good start in life. A Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) is a collaborative working arrangement between local authorities and the NHS covering a defined population and geography. Within the STP in Devon, England, all three local authorities had separate supervised toothbrushing programmes; all were precariously funded. Devon has limited access to routine NHS dentistry and children in deprived areas have high rates of general anaesthetics for dental extractions. Consolidating the supervised toothbrushing programmes presented an opportunity to address oral health inequalities across Devon STP. Objectives: 1. Reduce oral health inequalities for children in deprived areas. 2. Reduce treatment need for children who have limited access to routine NHS dentistry. 3. Invest in prevention. Methods: A proposal, supported by local authorities in Devon STP, was developed for a targeted supervised toothbrushing programme at early years sites across the most deprived 50% of areas in Devon. Return on investment was estimated using a national resource. Methods are described for identifying eligible sites and defining procurement lots. The NHS dental services commissioner agreed to support this proposal using an innovative approach to commissioning. Results: Three lots, totalling 525 sites, were awarded to two providers. Mobilisation over summer 2019 led to implementation from September 2019. Conclusion: Partnership working and innovative commissioning can enable NHS England to invest in prevention at scale where options to increase dental access are limited. Implementation across a large geographical area creates challenges but facilitates equitable programme delivery. Public health competencies being illustrated 4. Strategic leadership and collaborative working for health 5. Oral health improvement 7. Developing and monitoring quality dental services 8. Dental public health intelligence 10. Appropriate decision making and judgement Keywords: Health promotion, oral health, commissioning, child health, England, Public Health Practice

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