National Partnership Agreement on Treating More Public Dental Patients
The first National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Treating More Public Dental Patients provided $110.8 million to NSW for additional public dental activity between 1 January 2013 and 31 March 2015. A second Agreement provided a further $49.9 million in 2015-16. This agreement was extended by the Commonwealth for 6 months until 31 December 2016 with a further $25 million available to NSW. NSW Public Dental Services exceeded the activity targets set by the Commonwealth under these NPAs.
The Commonwealth has announced a new Dental NPA from 1 January 2017.
Benefits of the NPA to NSW
There has been a significant increase in public dental service activity as a result of the National Partnership Agreements through strategies such as increasing recruitment of dental staff, increasing clinic hours and available chair time, and increased use of the private sector via the NSW Oral Health Fee for Service Scheme. In 2016-17, the NSW Government has provided an additional $10 million to deliver additional public dental service patient activity.
Of note, child activity has decreased since the introduction of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule on 1 January 2014.
Table 1: NSW Public Dental Services - Number of Service Events per Financial Year, 2011/12 to 2016/17
Figure 1: NSW Public Dental Services - Number of Service Events per Financial Year, 2012/13 to 2016/17
Waiting lists and times
The increased activity initially had a significant effect on lowering waiting list numbers, however increased awareness of the public dental service has also increased demand, and waiting list numbers have since increased. Despite this increase, waiting times for adult general dental services are considerably lower than they were before the first NPA.
At the end of September 2017 there were 12,767 children and 92,387 adults on NSW public dental waiting lists.
The NSW Policy Directive Priority Oral Health Program and List Management Protocols, sets out recommended maximum waiting times for dental care, based on a persons oral health needs. Of the total number of children waiting general dental treatment, 86% were within clinically acceptable benchmark times. Of the total number of adults waiting for general dental treatment, 76% were within clinically acceptable benchmark times.
Patients requiring the most urgent care are given appointments immediately, and are not counted on waiting lists or in data related to waiting times. Patients on waiting lists for general dental treatment are not urgent cases. A more detailed breakdown of waiting lists by priority code is also available.
Figure 2: Number of NSW residents waiting for dental assessment and treatment, 31 December 2011 to 30 September 2017.
The number of NSW residents waiting for dental assessment and treatment is also available in tabular format for 31 December 2011 to 30 September 2017.
Table 2: Number of NSW residents waiting for dental assessment and treatment as at 30 September 2017.
| Central Coast
| Hunter New England
| Mid North Coast
| Northern NSW
| Northern Sydney
| Far West
| Nepean Blue Mountains
|South Western Sydney
| Western NSW
| Western Sydney
| Illawarra Shoalhaven
| South Eastern Sydney
| Southern NSW
* Data for Hunter New England LHD is by location of service. All other LHD data is by patient's LHD of residence.
It should be noted that the Table 2 treatment figures also include Children (2,955) and Adults (2,886) who are waiting for specialist dental treatment services.