Tariq Drabu CATS Affairs

My passion in dentistry is the delivery of oral surgery in primary care. Why do so many people have to go to hospital to have simple dental surgical procedures, such as the removal of wisdom teeth carried out? These are procedures that can be undertaken in a high street practice staffed by suitably qualified and trained specialists who are accredited and work within a recognised quality framework. I set up a prototype of this service back in 2004. This was the time of “Options for Change” the famous government White Paper which promised us a new dawn for NHS dentistry. O4C offered the opportunity to pilot new ways of working within the NHS. The service was very successful and it was exciting to be part of such a groundbreaking venture.

In 2007 the 5 North East sector primary care trusts in Greater Manchester decided to come together to setup the Dental CATS service. The aim was to offer specialised dental services such as orthodontics, minor oral surgery and advanced restorative within a primary care setting. The bidding process took around two years. During this time Salford and Bury withdrew so did Manchester. This was most unfortunate and regrettable as the opportunity to work in collaboration was missed. In April 2009 I was appointed as a preferred provider for oral surgery services. In September 2010 the service was officially commissioned. We are now running a primary-care oral surgery service almost 5 days a week out of two sites within the Rochdale Borough. We offer evening appointments and our team of highly skilled and qualified staff have won praise from all quarters. The contract was due to run until September 30, 2013.

We then encountered a strange state of affairs where we were advised that because of NHS reorganisations the contract would then be terminated on March 31, 2013. It was then realised by those in positions of authority that if every single similar oral surgery contract up and down the country was to end on March 31, 2013 health systems may well grind to a halt. In addition to that the challenge of recommissioning such services at a time of massive NHS restructuring would have been monumental. Fortunately the authorities have seen sense and we now have a state of affairs where the service has been recommissioned until March 31, 2014. This gives peace of mind to our patients, our referring dentists and our practice.

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