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News / January 27, 2021

Dental profession calls for financial backing after budget underspend revealed

by Gaby Bissett

Dental profession calls for financial backing after budget underspend revealedThe dental profession is urging the government for support after it emerges millions of COVID funding remains unspent.

The British Dental Association (BDA) is calling for further financial support as the Northern Ireland Executive budget reveals a stockpile of more than £300 million worth of funding. This was put aside to alleviate the impact of coronavirus in Northern Ireland.

So far, there is little clarity over whether the UK Treasury will push the funding over to 2021/22.

The BDA argue that enforced reduction of activity means the stability of dental services is precarious.

Drop in opportunities

They write: ‘This limited capacity has led to a significant patient backlog. GDPs have been forced to focus on emergency and urgent treatments.

‘We have significant concerns regarding how the prolonged absence of routine dentistry will impact the population’s oral health. And how it could reduce opportunities to catch oral cancer cases at an early stage.’

Between April and September last year, the number of individual patients seen by GDS dentists in Northern Ireland was 700,000 lower (-78%) when compared to 2019.

As a result, the BDA is calling for additional funding. Additionally, it argues that even a ‘modest increase’ in activity will help to address backlog issues.

Significant change

‘Without the financial support provided to GDPs via the Financial Support Scheme in 2020/21, health service dentistry would no longer exist,’ they add.

‘With no significant change, the need for this additional support will persist well into the next financial year.

‘Furthermore, if the current operational restrictions and level 2 PPE requirement are here to stay, then additional financial support will become an ongoing requirement. The current GDS contract does not cover these additional costs.’

You can read the full article here.