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Updates from week commencing 25 October 2021

Read all the updates that took place throughout this week.

Friday 29 October 2021



Dental careers podcast: Kids, community and prisons


Have you thought about treating children? Or perhaps you’re pondering the prison service or CDS? On our podcast, Chairside: Conversations about careers in dentistry, Andrea Ogden speaks to two dentists about their careers in these areas, giving you an insight into their experience and motivations.


Jinesh Thakrar, ex-prison dentist and current CDS dentist: “Prison dentistry really helped me keep up my speed, helped with my diagnosing, as you can imagine there’s a high dental need there… I really got involved in doing a lot of endos, extirpations, extractions, lots of restoration work too, which I really enjoyed.”


David Drysdale, paediatric specialty registrar at GOSH and former CDS dentist: “The problem I had with the community was that you don’t receive much formal training. That’s why, I decided to do the masters in paediatric dentistry, it wasn’t to help me specialise, it was to do my job… it was on the back of doing the masters, and doing quite well that I decided to specialise…and I would go back [to work as a specialist in the community] in a heartbeat.”


Listen on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify or search “Chairside” on your chosen podcast platform.





Confidential counselling and emotional support


We provide all members with access to Health Assured, a comprehensive confidential service designed to help you deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home life or work life, health, and general wellbeing. Members can access the helpline 24/7, 365 days a year. Support includes:


  • Life support: Unlimited access to counselling, a pathway to structured telephone counselling for you or your dependents and for you face-to-face counselling sessions at your convenience
  • Legal information: Advice for you on any issues, including debt management, accountancy, lawsuits, consumer disputes, property or neighbour disputes
  • Bereavement support: Experienced counsellors who can help with grief and related stress plus a team of legal advisors to help with legal issues
  • CBT online: We recognise the value of self-help tools in dealing with a range of issues, which is why we have a range of CBT self-help modules, informative factsheets and invaluable advice videos from leading qualified counsellors.





Northern Ireland: Deadline for FSS November payment


Applications for the November 2021 Financial Support Scheme (FSS) must be in by 5pm on the 8 November 2021. 


All applications should be entered via the GDS financial support scheme application form. 


The Business Services Organisation (BSO) have confirmed that any applications received after this date will not be processed.  



Thursday 28 October 2021




Northern Ireland: Minister to reduce frequency of RQIA inspections


Health Minister Robin Swann intends to bring forward legislation to reduce the frequency of RQIA inspections of dental practices in Northern Ireland. He has asked officials to deliver a plan for this within the current Assembly mandate. 


We welcomed the Minister’s commitment to reduce the frequency of RQIA inspections, while upholding the principles of patient safety. We share the Minster’s confidence that: “the overwhelming majority of care provided is safe, effective and well led.” We will update you as progress is made. 





England: MPs consider water fluoridation 


The Committee of MPs scrutinising the Health and Care Bill has considered Government’s plans to re-centralise water fluoridation in order to facilitate new fluoridation schemes. There is cross-party support for the move, but opposition MPs questioned whether the new legal framework would translate into genuine central government investment. 


The Bill as it stands allows for potential sharing of the cost of any new schemes with the relevant local authorities. However, Health Minister Edward Argar MP assured the Committee that the Government had no plans to introduce cost sharing and intended to cover the cost of any new schemes themselves, starting with the areas with the poorest oral health outcomes. 


Both the Labour and SNP spokespeople lamented the missed opportunity to introduce wider oral health prevention measures in the Bill. SNP Health Spokeswoman, Dr Philippa Whitford, said “I’m surprised that the opportunity offered by this Bill has not been used to introduce a child dental health programme in England similar to Childsmile. […] Dental clearance is the commonest reason to administer a general anaesthetic to a child. That is quite a shocking indictment.” 


Shadow Health Minister Alex Norris MP argued that fluoridation, while welcome, was only one element of oral health prevention, saying “Not only have opportunities been missed over the last decade to invest in oral health, but we are actually going backwards. Supervised tooth brushing and other high-quality evidence-based interventions have disappeared because of this Government’s cuts to the public health budget.”





England: Standing together for change


In a recent blog, Chair of the BDA Board Eddie Crouch tells us about the dental care protests he recently attended in Suffolk. He outlines why dentists are protesting and why it's so urgent:


“Over 150 people gathered in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday to protest the crisis facing dental care. I was proud to stand with them, together with colleagues from the region, in common cause… From failed contracts to underfunding, patients and dentists are now speaking with one voice on the need for change.”


England: Standing together for change




Northern Ireland: Patient registrations extended until 31 March


An extension of patient registrations until the end of March 2022 has been confirmed by The Department of Health, Health and Social Care Board and Business Services Organisation.


If the patient registration was originally set to expire between 12 March 2020 and 31 December 2021, these will be extended to at least 31 March 2022. Any registrations that were not due to expire will be extended by an additional three months. As such, any patient who has attended or had their registration updated since 12 March 2018 will remain registered until at least 31 March 2022.


GDS has asked that your practice systems are updated to accommodate this rollover of patient registrations with a general rule of thumb that patients who have attended since 12 March 2018 should remain registered until at least the end of the financial year. HSCB will issue a further update in December. We will keep you updated.



Wednesday 27 October 2021




Scotland: GDP pay award confirmed 


The Scottish Government have confirmed the pay uplift for GDPs which will be applied from 1 December, and backdated to 1 April.


Following the publication of the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body (DDRB) report for 2021/22, the Scottish Government accepted the recommended pay increase of 3%. This will apply to gross item of service fees, capitation and continuing care payments. However, we have expressed our disappointment to the Government that the uplift will not be applied to the full GDP renumeration package. We made it clear that the uplift should be applied to all allowances otherwise it is not a true 3% pay rise - we estimate the overall increase will only be in the region of around 2.2% to 2.3%. Members have also highlighted that the VT Trainer Allowance has not been increased since 2014. As a result, VT Trainers are apparently valued less than their VDPs year on year.


We continue to raise members' concerns to the Scottish Government and would welcome the opportunity for earlier negotiation on improving the process for applying the pay uplift.





Budget 2021 will not mend NHS dentistry


The Budget announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak today fails to recognise the challenges facing dental services across England, despite calls from both the BDA and Healthwatch England to provide vital funding for the recovery and rebuild of services, which were backed yesterday by over 40 cross-party MPs.


Over 35 million appointments have been lost in England since lockdown, and even before COVID funding was sufficient to cover barely half the population. We have expressed disbelief that no commitments have been made to provide the necessary resources to deal with the backlogs and underpin a transition to a new and sustainable model of care. 


The decision not to extend the 50% business rates discount to high street dentists, meanwhile, leaves them once again among the only businesses on the high street not receiving needed support. 


British Dental Association Chair Eddie Crouch said: "Any credible 'levelling up' agenda cannot ignore millions of patients with no hope of securing needed care. MPs have recognised NHS dentistry is in the last chance saloon. Sadly, the Chancellor has offered this service no help clearing the backlogs, no support for the rebuild and recovery, and no boost for public health."





Northern Ireland: How to access COVID booster jabs


COVID-19 booster vaccinations for dental practice staff will be provided by community pharmacies in Northern Ireland.


To obtain your booster jab, you will need to bring a letter of eligibility and photo ID to a participating community pharmacy. There are two different letters of eligibility - one for GDPs and another for all other dental staff who are eligible. Please note, the GDP letter requires you to put in your practice address/stamp and insert your own name, and it can only be used by GDPs.


Unsure if you are eligible? Patricia Donnelly, Head of the NI COVID-19 vaccination programme, has explained which healthcare workers meet the Green book definition of a frontline HSCW and are therefore entitled to receive a COVID-19 booster.




England: CQC report highlights tsunami of unmet need


Last week's CQC State of Care report highlights major issues with NHS dental services that have been compounded by the pandemic. Inspectors particularly noted problems among children and young people had in accessing routine dental care during the COVID crisis.


The CQC has presented four key questions that dentistry must address:


  • How will confidence be restored that access to NHS dental services is available for everyone?
  • What measures need to be taken to prioritise and improve access to urgent dental care through NHS 111?
  • Is there enough NHS dental capacity commissioned, and how will NHS policy leaders and commissioners deal with the demand to ensure those who are vulnerable and without a dentist have equality of access to NHS care?
  • With a move to system working and joined-up working in a place, how will oral health be seen as an integral part, providing access to the right service, in the right place, first time?

This report underlines our call for joint call with Healthwatch for financial support from the Treasury. There wasn't enough NHS dentistry to go round before the pandemic. These questions can only be answered by officials holding the purse strings.



Tuesday 26 October 2021



Northern Ireland: Ministerial commitment to new GDS contract


The Health Minister confirmed to us his commitment to reforming the GDS and moving forward with establishing a new GDS contract in a meeting last Thursday.


In a joint statement Minister Robin Swann acknowledged the significant impact the pandemic has had on dentists and their teams, as well as the financial pressures in continuing to provide Health Service dentistry. He also stated his intention to legislate to change the frequency of RQIA inspections, and accepted the need to reinstate emergency provision for unregistered patients.


Richard Graham, Chair of the NI Dental Practice Committee, said: "The Minister has listened to the profession's concerns. He has now said publicly he wants to work with us to ensure the much-needed reform of Health Service dentistry in Northern Ireland is carried out in order to make the GDS truly sustainable in providing oral care for future generations. I'm proud that the collective efforts of our profession, and the professionalism of the BDA team has resulted in this positive outcome."





England: MPs tell Treasury to fund dental services


In an open letter, over 40 MPs from both sides of the House of Commons have called on Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Clarke, to ensure the coming budget and Spending Review put the building blocks in place for a sustainable recovery following the pandemic. This follows followed our recent call for investment in dental services.


Led by Yvette Cooper MP, the message is now backed by both Harriet Harman and Sir Peter Bottomley, as well as MPs from across the political spectrum and every region of England.


BDA Board Chair Eddie Crouch said: "The breadth of voices here reflects the depth of the crisis facing families across England. Providing the funds to rebuild a decent NHS dental service isn't a partisan issue. The Treasury has a choice, and investment here can offer a brighter future for millions of patients."





Scotland: 3.5 million lost appointments


New data shows the scale of the backlog facing practices in Scotland, and demonstrates the absurdity of government plans to return to pre-COVID models of care.


Public Health Scotland have confirmed that the number of treatments delivered in the year to March 2021 was less than 25% of those delivered in the previous 12-month period. This means, over 3.5 million appointments have been lost as a result of the pandemic.


A return to a low margin high volume model will put practices under unsustainable financial pressure and will likely lead to closures or movement to the private sector. We need a new, sustainable model for delivering care, and in the interim, a workable funding model is needed to support dentists and their teams to care for their patients.





Scotland: Make your voice heard


Yesterday, we issued a survey to gather the views of GDPs on the Scottish Government's plans to reintroduce the full fee-per-item payment system and end COVID support payments in early 2022.


Over 600 dentists in Scotland have already responded to this survey. If you haven't yet, don't miss out on your chance to make your voice heard.


Whether you're an associate or practice owner, working in NHS, private or mixed practice, we want to hear from you. The evidence you provide will again enable us to make informed arguments on your behalf.





Scotland: New tools to support staff wellbeing


The Scottish Government have collated a list of useful tools available to help support staff wellbeing.


After persistent pressure from the BDA to address this vital issue, particularly in light of the pandemic, the government unveiled the Workforce Specialist Service yesterday. This tool offers confidential mental health assessment and treatment for all regulated health professionals providing NHS services, including independent contractors.


The Workspace Specialist Service joins a body of services also devoted to help support staff wellbeing.


These include:


  • National Wellbeing Helpline (0800 111 4191): Trained practitioners at NHS 24 offer psychological support and provide a compassionate and empathic listening service, advice, signposting and onward referral to local services if required. This service is 24/7.
  • Leadership Support: Coaching, peer support and cross-sector learning sets
  • Coaching for Wellbeing: A digital coaching service for all health and social care staff
  • National Wellbeing Hub: A self-care and wellbeing resources for all staff, unpaid carers, volunteers and their families to enhance personal resilience and signpost to relevant mental health and support services.

There is also funding additional funding available to support psychological care, including £4 million set aside to provide resources for wellbeing. More information can be found at: Caring for those who care for us.



Monday 25 October 2021



Advice: NHS England third quarter contracts


Our advice team have put together a video outlining what you need to know about NHS England's third quarter contracts:



All members can access this advice by signing in, and if you're not a member you can join to access this advice today.





Wales: Last chance to complete mental health survey


Today is your last chance to take part in our mental health survey, which looks at how the last six months of the pandemic has affected the profession in Wales. Please consider taking part, whether you feel the pandemic has or hasn't affected your mental health. Your opinions will help us to improve the mental health provision for dentists working in Wales.


This work follows on from a survey that we sent out in January 2021 which addressed the extent to which dentists felt their mental health had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of this survey have been published in BDJ In Practice, with a full research paper to be published in the BDJ later this year. The results have also been presented at the CDS Joint Forum and the Welsh Dental Committee.





Nominate yourself for a committee seat


You have until noon today to nominate yourself for a place on our Board, Councils or Committees. It will only take a few minutes to fill out the form and write a short piece about yourself (max 400 words).


The following seats are open on our Board:


  • UK wide
  • Northern Ireland
  • Yorkshire and Humber
  • South-West England
  • Northern England

There are also Council seats for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The following Committees have open seats:


  • Armed Forces
  • Community/salaried dentistry
  • Dental Public Health
  • General Practice
  • Hospital Dentistry
  • University, Research and Academia.