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News / September 2, 2020

Government urged to supply further financial support for dental practices

by Gaby Bissett

A new report from the dental profession is calling on financial support for mixed and private services across the UK

A new report from the dental profession is calling on financial support for mixed and private services across the UK. 

Key stakeholders and groups – including the British Dental Association (BDA) and the Association of Dental Groups – have looked at the financial support currently available.

And as a result, they have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak for an ‘urgent response’ to their recommendations.

Take heed

‘Patient access to dentistry remains limited. Therefore, we face a real risk of deep health inequalities widening,’ said BDA chief executive, Martin Woodrow.

‘The measured view of this paper is that a vital healthcare service – now operating at a fraction of its former capacity – requires urgent support.

‘While short-term assistance has been offered to NHS contractors, private providers have largely had to go it alone.

‘From the extension of business rates relief to ensuring necessary funding is in place to support services for vulnerable populations, the Treasury has a responsibility to take heed, and set out a clear plan to keep dentistry afloat.’

Suggestions and recommendations

The recommendations of the short life working group include:

  • The extension of eligibility for financial support and expansion of eligibility to business rate relief. This is to help manage the financial burdens of resuming provision and restoring the sector
  • Further support through investment in extended commissioning of NHS dental care to address the backlog of patients.

Its calls for a ‘robust and timely support package’ include the following considerations:

  • An extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Eligibility for business rate relief
  • Eligibility for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLGF)
  • Finally, a support package for dental laboratories that assist NHS dental practices.

The current financial support scheme was introduced for NHS contract holders in Northern Ireland from March 2020.

Payments to practices were based on 2019/2020 figures and included capitation, and continuing care payments. Additionally, it included average figures for item of service and patient contributions.

Furthermore, to reflect variable costs which would not be incurred, it was abated by 20%.

Phasing out UDCs

This comes as Northern Ireland starts to scale back its urgent dental care (UDC) centres. 

Phase one kicked off yesterday (1 September), which will see the following take place until 30 September:

  • NHSCT and BHSCT – continue with current UDC centres seven days per week
  • WHSCT and SEHSCT – continue with current UDC centres a weekend-only service.