UNLABELLED: The General Dental Council recognised special care dentistry (SCD) as a speciality in 2008 and local service reviews have been carried out in order to develop SCD services. A needs assessment was completed to inform the implementation of recommendations from a 2010 review of SCD in Wales. AIM: The aim of this paper is to outline the process, findings and learning from the needs assessment and the implications for SCD. METHOD: A focused needs assessment approach was used. Stakeholder consultations were used to develop a working definition for the needs assessment. Data were collected from existing health and social care sources and analysed using descriptives and geographic information system (GIS) mapping. RESULTS: Data sources for needs assessment were limited. Analysis showed that health conditions were common in the population and increased with age. The majority of people who reported seeing a dentist were seen in general dental practice. Older people with health conditions were less likely to report seeing a dentist. Patients often needed to travel for specialist care services. CONCLUSION: General dental practice teams have a significant role in caring for SCD patients. Careful planning of specialist care, joint working and enhancing skills across the general practice team will reduce the burden of care and enhance patient safety. Improvements in data for assessment of SCD needs are required to help this process.
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