Friday 2 July 2021
The legal case against the practice owner
Earlier this year, the dental profession was rocked by the news that a practice owner in Wales was found to be liable for damages and costs - more than two decades after his retirement.
Head of BDA Indemnity, Len D'Cruz looks back at the case and highlights why some indemnity policies will not keep you safe from claims and damages:
"The judge concluded that the non-delegable duty of the practice owner existed even where the associates were responsible for their own tax affairs and own indemnity arrangements...
"We should all consider the need for robust contractual cover - preferably one which respects the pleasures and pitfalls of modern dentistry.
"BDA policyholders have the peace of mind of knowing that the policy covers all practice owners as they have vicariously liability covered."
Northern Ireland: Financial support, PPE and the pay uplift
Current Financial Support Scheme arrangements in Northern Ireland are to continue, a
letter to GDPs has confirmed. These arrangements will roll forwards for July and August. We will continue to discuss the form payments will take to the end of the year with the Department.
This letter also confirmed that additional PPE funding has been allocated for Q1. The Statement of Dental Remuneration pay uplift arrears from April 20-July 21 will also be paid in July payment.
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 for emotional problems and 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 that cause anxiety or distress including debt management, accountancy, lawsuits, consumer disputes, property or neighbour disputes.
Bereavement support: Health Assured offers qualified and experienced counsellors who can help with grief and related stress plus a team of legal advisors to help with legal issues.
Medical information: Qualified nurses are on hand to offer advice on a range of medical or health related issues. They can't diagnose but can offer a sympathetic ear and practical information and advice.
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.
BDJ Clinicians' Guides
Did you know, being a member entitles you to a 20% discount on the BDJ Clinicians' Guides series?
The guides enables clinicians at all stages of their careers to remain well informed and up to date on key topics across all fields of dentistry. Ideal for undergraduates and the newly qualified, they also serve as a refresher for more experienced clinicians and are valued as excellent postgraduate texts too.
To access the discount code and place your order, just visit
Thursday 1 July 2021
Recruitment and the right to work in the UK: BDA advice
Many practices employ staff from within the European Economic Area (“EEA”). Until now, freedom of movement has meant that establishing the right to work for this group of individuals has been reasonably straight forward for employers.
From today, however, people from within the European Economic Area (except Irish citizens) need to provide proof of their immigration status to show their right to work in the UK.
Practice owners must now establish whether a candidate has the right to work in the UK before employing them, to avoid a civil penalty or, where an individual is knowingly or reasonably believed to be employed without immigration permission, criminal liability.
To find out what you need to know, members can access our
advice on recruitment, Right to Work checks and correct HR procedures
NHS England: Changes to UDA reports on Compass
NHS BSA have announced that providers can now access the Q1/Q2 report by calendar month on Compass. The report can be found in the Activity folder named 'Activity Report for Quarters 1 and 2 (Calendar month)' and a performer version will be available by the end of next week.
We expect this to be useful as performance against the 60% target is monitored on a full month basis, and this change will allow practices and associates to more accurately monitor how they are doing.
Wales: No turning back on contract reform
Baroness Morgan has today indicated that there will be
no return to the failed system NHS dentistry operated to prior to COVID. The Minister has pledged to ensure that all the gains experienced within the variation to the General Dental Services contract will be preserved as we move out of the pandemic recovery of NHS dentistry.
The widely discredited target-based contract for high street dentistry, in operation since 2006, was effectively suspended at the onset of lockdown. It capped patient numbers, failed to reward preventive work, and fuelled both access problems and a collapse in morale among the profession. An evolutionary approach to reform has been working well under the leadership of the CDO, Dr Colette Bridgman, and the BDA sees this partnership with dental branch continuing as we head towards the next phase of contract reform in April 2022.
Russell Gidney, Chair of the BDA's Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, said: “This is welcome news for families across Wales. It means there will be no turning back to a failed system that put government targets ahead of patient care.”
Living with the threat of vicarious liability
Can practice owners ever completely protect themselves from the risk of vicarious liability?
Many of you will already be familiar with the recent court case in which a dental practice owner was found to be vicariously liable for the errors of his associate.
Our members have been calling us to express concern. To reassure them, we have taken advice from legal counsel to find out whether (and how) practice owners can protect themselves from litigation for another person’s acts and omissions.
England: CQC to require remote orthodontics to register
The Care Quality Commission are to require remote orthodontic providers to register with them and that “providers must assure us that they are able to provide safe and effective care in line with relevant legislation and guidance.” They have also indicated their willingness to prosecute providers who fail to register.
Remote provision is growing in popularity but can lead to irreversible damage to a patient’s mouth. However, while the General Dental Council have offered warnings to patients, the regulator has failed to set out any sanctions to providers who departed from these principles. We continue to advocate for real regulation in this space.
BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said: “With remote orthodontics we need real regulation, not just empty warnings, to properly protect patients. Mandatory CQC registration and inspection is a much-needed first step. A health watchdog needs to prosecute those who fail to register is sending the right signal to unscrupulous operators.”
Wednesday 30 June 2021
England: Patients' signature requirements delayed until 31 August 2021
Following successful BDA lobbying, the requirement for the reintroduction of patient signatures has been delayed to 31 August 2021 to fit in with wider COVID restrictions remaining in place.
Friends and Family Test data will be reintroduced sooner. July will be the first month you need to formally count the Friends and Family Test responses and submit the data in August. The data will then be due to be published after three months' collection (July, August, September data), and then published every month after that.
Restrictions on patient signing and the FFT were paused from November 2020 to aid cross-infection control and the requirements in place for dental practices to restrict the spread of Covid.
Dental regulation - where are we now?
Will there be a reduction in the involvement of dentists in dental regulation? Reduced support for ill registrants? A change in approach to administrative removals? A super-regulator for healthcare?
A major consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has now closed. This was aimed at setting out a blueprint for the UK’s health regulators, and it looked at governance arrangements, registration, education/standards and fitness to practise.
The intention is to allow regulators more flexibility to adjust to a changing world, but what is this likely to mean for dentists and dentistry? Shareena Ilyas's recent blog takes a look at where we are now, and what's promising and concerning for dentistry.
Webinar: Leadership lessons from lockdown
Are you interested in learning leadership skills to help improve your practice's productivity and patient confidence? If so,
join our one-hour leadership webinar tomorrow evening at 19:30-20:30. It's free to members and £50 to non-members.
The webinar will help you:
- Understand how to build effective communication with your team, patients and others
- Understand the importance of leadership skills in building effective teams
- Learn the skills, behaviours and attitudes which engender and strengthen patient confidence in your whole team.
Scotland: Plan for activity measurements suspended
The Scottish Government has suspended their plan to introduce activity targets to ensure practices qualify for COVID financial support. The CDO for Scotland, Tom Ferris, clarified the suspension in
a letter to all NHS dental practices yesterday.
We welcome the shelving of these restrictions and have continually argued against the Government’s plan to use gross Item of Service as the sole measure of activity. This will help prevent further pressure being placed on practices who are already struggling and working under challenging conditions.
The average level of activity across the sector is approximately 50% of pre-COVID levels. Practices will begin to receive a monthly notification of their activity levels, starting with the July/paid August PSD schedule, allowing them to monitor activity levels. The Government and NHS Boards will then focus on practices which are delivering less than 20% of pre-COVID activity.
Right to work checks from 1 July
The government has issued
new guidance on checks that employers need to undertake from tomorrow, 1 July 2021.
There is also
new guidance for EU/EEA and Swiss nationals who have received their status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
We advise dentists and their team members to consider the information and raise awareness amongst their contacts.
Tuesday 29 June 2021
Dentists called to support survivors of domestic abuse
A new campaign is calling for dentists to provide pro bono treatment to survivors of domestic abuse.
In a recent blog, Dr Sonia Joshi she tells us why she's involved and what the proposed dentistry directory can achieve.
“During my twenty years in the profession, I’ve seen dentistry come a long way in its understanding and provision of care for highly vulnerable patients who have suffered from situations of domestic abuse. But there is much still to be done.
“The idea for a registry of dentists willing to provide pro bono services started during lockdown. On social media, I saw a request from Rachel Williams, the founder of Stand Up to Domestic Abuse, asking for dental care for a survivor of domestic abuse and I contacted her to see how dentists could support these patients. Since then, the idea of a registry has taken off.”
UK vaccination rates: Can dentists help?
NHS figures show that vaccination rates, while encouragingly high overall, continue to vary significantly between communities in the UK.
At present, people identifying either as Black British or as Mixed White and Caribbean have the lowest vaccination rates. Among over 50s these stand at 67.2% and 71.4% respectively and among the over 16s these are just 39.2% and 37.9%. This is low in comparison to other groups, particularly in comparison to those identifying as White British, which come in at 95.1% of over 50s and 75.6% of over 16s.
In March this year, dental student and volunteer vaccinator,
Mustafa Nawaz Khan told us his story about becoming a vaccinator and what dentists can do to help tackle vaccine misinformation and help engage all communities. Reflecting on these new statistics and what dentists can do, he's said:
"I'm pleased to see high rates across many communities. But we're clearly still got a lot more to do! Your patients likely know you better than they know their doctor, so if you can please do make the time to speak about your own experience, this could make all the difference.
"I saw this in action recently, when my practice held a walk-in clinic at the Tottenham Hotspurs' stadium. We vaccinated over 4,000 people and more than one patient mentioned that their dentist had spoken to them about vaccination during a check-up!"
Questions answered on the future of dentistry
Yesterday MPs and Peers quizzed Health Minister Jo Churchill MP, CDO Sara Hurley and NHS England’s Director for Primary Care Strategy Ed Waller on
plans to restore dental services in the wake of the COVID pandemic.
The virtual event, held by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dentistry and Oral Health, to which the BDA acts as secretariat, was joined by voices from across the political spectrum.
We are working to build cross-party consensus on the need for change. And this event once again underlined that a growing number of parliamentarians are clear on the scale of the challenge ahead, and the need for decisive action from Government.
Monday 28 June 2021
Northern Ireland: Feedback sought on Duty of Candour proposals
The Department of Health is consulting on policy proposals to introduce a new Statutory Duty of Candour for individuals and organisations involved in providing health and social care in Northern Ireland.
Caroline Lappin, BDA Northern Ireland Council Chair, has reflected on this as an important opportunity to move towards a culture of candour and openness rather than fear, and has asked for your feedback on these important proposals.
Last two days to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
EU, other EEA and Swiss citizens, and their family members have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
The free scheme enables EEA and Swiss citizens resident in the UK by the end of the transition period, and their family members, to obtain the status they will require in order to live and work in the UK. Applicants need to complete three key steps – prove their identity, show that they live in the UK, and declare any criminal convictions.
We encourage all dentists and members of dental teams to ensure that they apply by the deadline if it applies to them, or urge anyone they know to whom this may apply to do so.
See information on the process here.
Racism in dentistry: Denial is not an option
In a recent blog Eddie Crouch, Chair of the BDA Board, takes a first look at the results from our racism survey, which show evidence of both racism and denial in dentistry:
"I have had the chance to look at some of the data and troubling accounts of personal experiences of discrimination faced by our colleagues stand out. It's clear that we still face a significant problem with racism within dentistry... [But] there were also comments from other respondents, who had not personally seen or experienced discrimination and therefore insisted that it did not exist.
"I'm proud that we have made equality, diversity and inclusion a priority area currently for the BDA. We have started a programme of work under our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, led by Shareena Ilyas and Laura Cross. The racism survey is just the start of that."
NHS England contracts: Deadline for year-end declarations
As we've highlighted before, it is a mandatory requirement for general practice contract holders in England to submit a year end declaration for the year 2020-21. NHS England has now extended the deadline for submission until midnight on Wednesday, 30 June.
Failing to complete the form accurately could put the payments received during the last financial year in jeopardy. The year-end declaration eForm letter is available in Compass and further guidance is available from the NHSBSA website.
The declaration asks a series of questions that contract holders are required to answer. One of those is a declaration that payments during the 2020/21 contract year were made to the practice workforce from April to December 2020. Practice owners were obliged to pay associates and other staff at 'previous NHS levels' during that period. This has proven to be one of the most challenging aspects of the set of requirements, with different interpretations of paying at previous levels, particularly for associates.
We have offered consistent advice on this issue that the most logical approach is to pay the equivalent of Net Pensionable Earnings from the prior financial year. We have heard of many examples of practices taking different approaches, for example additionally passing on the full costs of the 16.75% contract abatement. We do not believe that this sort of method is fair to associates given that deductions will already have been taken into account via the NPE calculation.
A new Health Secretary
Sajid Javid has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
As GDPC Chair Shawn Charlwood told the BBC we stand ready to work with the new DH team.
Shawn stressed urgent reform cannot be kicked any further down the road.
We have pledges to review IPC guidance, but our members require a clear roadmap for easing restrictions. Reform of the failed GDS contract is promised, but needs to be in place before the start of the next financial year, alongside parallel action to confront widening oral health inequality.
It is unclear what changes at the Department will mean for the passage of sweeping reforms to health and social care, widely expected to be tabled in parliament in the coming weeks.
We will be raising these issues directly with Ministers in the days ahead.