The Model Health Initiative is a national campaign for progress, across a range of hospitals, with oral & maxillofacial care included.
Our London clinic is a private facility but our consultants can have connections with departments in NHS hospitals. They may act as advisors, or teach surgeons who will work within the NHS.
Taking an interest in NHS progress is natural and the Model Hospital is an interesting, digital concept. Open to staff at all levels, from board level to carers, to help them see improvement opportunities.
There is a degree of focus on cost savings, although not at the expense of best care. The two objectives are not always contradictory, even in our specialist field.
The Maxillofacial Outlook
The national studies have identified notable savings, which would at the same time improve the experience of patients and their outcome.
Fewer hospital admissions, or shorter stays when admitted were highlighted and fewer repeat visits. These save money and help patients, by improving care and freeing resources.
Whilst planning and procurement would benefit from changes, the primary problems were a shortage in maxillofacial surgeons and inconsistencies in skill levels, especially for advanced work.
Registered oral & maxillofacial surgeons are qualified in medicine and dentistry. To try to ensure patient cover, NHS services were being staffed by general dentists, with an interest in oral surgery but variable experience.
A case where trying to help achieved the opposite in a complex field, in terms of equipment used and most importantly, the surgery itself.
Maxillofacial surgeons should be able to carry out complex operations and apply the same skill levels to less serious cases. Otherwise, patients will stay in the system, an extra cost and worse outcome.
We are not in any sense trying to apportion blame, there are fine oral & maxillofacial surgeons working within the NHS. The points raised by the initiative are nevertheless valid and important.
Maxillofacial care requires high level knowledge, for diagnosis, which may follow a GP’s assessment and surgical, or non surgical management of conditions.
The field deals with facial pain, oral disease and infections, craniofacial surgery, facial cancers, microsurgery, complex dental needs. Alongside these, preserving sensory ability and facial aesthetics is vital.
Patient confidence also matters and is heightened by medical planning which identifies the right path. Reducing hospital stays helps, or organising alternatives which bring the best outcome with minimal intervention.
With the right skills and understanding of which type of anaesthesia will suit, much can be achieved through day surgery. A blessing for patients in terms of far more than cost and a decision which preserves resources.
The maxillofacial profession is essential to the NHS and we will do all we can to support them. Lessening skill gaps, which improves care for patients is a rational and valuable objective.