What is direct access??
‘Direct Access’ means giving patients the option to see a dental care professional (DCP) without having first seen a dentist and without a prescription from a dentist.
What it means- Dental hygienists and dental therapists can carry out their full scope of practice except tooth whitening without needing a prescription from a dentist.
Information for patients
Clear information for patients is vital.
- What treatments are available via direct access – Any of our hygiene appointments
- The arrangements for booking an appointment with a hygienist – Bookings to be made over the phone where the patient will be informed that it is direct access
- What will happen if the patient needs treatment which the hygienist or therapist cannot provide. – The hygienist will refer the patient to one of our highly skilled dentists.
Consent must be obtained from the patient for all treatment undertaken and for any referral to other members of the dental team.
There will be a “direct access” consent form that will need to be signed upon the patients arrival.
Hygienists and therapists practising under direct access are not expected to make a diagnosis beyond their scope of practice. They should refer to a dentist when they identify areas of concern or when treatment is required that is out of their scope of practice.
The need for referral should be explained to the patient and their consent obtained. The reason for the referral and the fact that the patient has consented to it should be recorded in the patient’s notes. Relevant clinical information, including copies of radiographs, should be provided with the referral.
If a patient refuses a referral to a dentist, the possible consequences of this should be explained to them and a note of the discussion made in the patient’s records.