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Updates from week commencing 29 March 2021

Read all the updates and what we've been working on during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Thursday 1 April 2021



England: FAQs on NHS contracts 


This week NHS England confirmed that targets for NHS general dental services contract holders in England would rise to 60% for the next six months. The majority of practices are currently unable to reach this target and many members have been in touch asking for advice.  


We have updated our FAQs to provide you with the answers you need, including: 


  • What's happening with the 2021-2022 NHS contract year? 
  • What is happening with prototype contracts?  
  • What's happening with lockdown abatement?   
  • What's happening with overperformance?   
  • Has progress been made on contract reform? 





Help managing stress: Resources


Promoting wellbeing and looking at the causes of stress and burnout are critical for the future of the profession. That's why, our campaign page lists resources and services that are available to dentists to help them tackle stress.  


Included are both UK-wide services and those specific to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and specific resources for issues such as suicide prevention, addiction and bereavement. You don't have to be a BDA member to access most of these resources, so please do take a look at what's available to you and consider reaching out.





England: Free PPE extended until March 2022


The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have formally extended the provision of free COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) until 31 March 2022.


In making this decision, DHSC say they have considered the likely trajectory of the pandemic, the roll-out of the national vaccination programme and have engaged with a broad range of stakeholders.





Scotland: New Q&As on PPE


In collaboration with the National Services Scotland (NSS), we have answered your most common queries about PPE supplies in Scotland


This new Q&A includes:


  • How each board determines the allocation of PPE to a dental practice

  • What boards are set up to order PPE online and 

  • What to do if concerned about the quality of your PPE

 We are in regular contact with the NSS and will updating these Q&As as the PPE situation evolves. 





Wales: NHS providers advised to check eDEN data


Following concerns raised from members and discussions at the latest Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, we have been in touch with the Business Service Authority regarding data available on the eDEN platform. We would urge all NHS providers to log on to the platform to view their data and ensure it is correct. It is in everyone's best interests for the data submitted by FP17W to be as accurate as possible, since this is how Health Boards will ascertain what work is being done in your practice. At present only providers and practice managers are able to access this platform. However, we have also made the case for performers to have access and look forward to seeing this soon. We will keep you updated.





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.





Dental students: Share your stories


20% of all applications for financial support to the BDA Benevolent Fund come from dental students, and the charity supports students in hardship by offering means tested grants and mental health and wellbeing support.


Now the BDA Benevolent Fund are looking for students to attend its next virtual Advisory Council meeting to share their experiences and perhaps provide guidance, support, and advice to the charity's Board of Trustees. They are particularly keen to understand how best to promote its work to dental students and so would welcome undergraduates, recent graduates and those that work at universities across the UK to participate. If you're a dental student, please consider attending on Saturday 24 April at 10.30. Your voice can make a difference.





Regulatory changes regarding the import/export of human tissues and cells


Following EU Exit, regulatory changes came into effect in Great Britain regarding the import or export of human tissues and cells. These changes will affect your practice if you send (export) or receive (import) human tissues or cells to/from the European Economic Area (EEA) for human application.

Does your practice buy human bone, pericardium or dermal tissue products from an EU company? If so, you will need an HTA licence from 1 July 2021. If you buy these products via a UK supplier, however, the UK supplier will be the importer and they will require the licence rather than you as a user.



Wednesday 31 March 2021



Wrong tooth extractions removed from Never Event list


From tomorrow, wrong tooth extraction will no longer be considered a never event, NHS England-Improvement has confirmed.


This is an issue that we have been working on for a number of years and believe it should come as reassuring news for dentists, who will no longer be required to declare these incidents as never events. All other existing reporting remains in place.


Never events are a specifically defined serious patient safety incident that is wholly preventable due to strong systemic barriers resulting from the implementation of national guidance. Following BDA representation from all branches of practice and clinical academia, it is now accepted that the national guidance in relation to tooth extraction does not provide the strong systemic barriers necessary to meet the definition of a never event.


This removal from the list means that there are now no dental-specific never events in England, the BDA having previously secured the removal of wrong-site blocks.


Following this news, the Welsh Government has confirmed that the removal of wrong site tooth extraction as a never event will also apply to Wales.





Answering your frequently asked questions


Our advice teams receive hundreds of calls a week from members across the UK. We also work to update our website as often as possible to advise the profession. Check out our updated frequently asked questions section, which includes:


  • Should my practice use lateral flow tests?
  • What if a staff member has COVID-19?
  • What if a staff member is told to self-isolate?
  • What if staff are anxious about returning to work?
  • What about staff returning from abroad?





England: COVID business interruption loans are coming to an end

Today, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme will come to an end.


This means that practices who took out a loan last year will now receive notifications that they will need to start paying it back after 12 months interest free. This is likely to add potential hardship for practices who are still trying to overcome the impact of the pandemic.


The scheme, which allows businesses to apply for a loan of up to 25% of their annual turnover, was provided through the British Business Bank and a group of accredited providers. Its primary aim was to provide financial support to SMEs who have experienced lost revenue and cash flow disruptions as a result of the pandemic.


The Government have promised to work to provide a new government-guaranteed loan scheme, of which we are waiting for more information.





Scotland: Ventilation survey for NHS dental practices


Scottish NHS dental practices have today received a letter from the Chief Dental Officer encouraging them to take part in a ventilation survey to help the Scottish Government inform policy and accurately assess practices’ ventilation needs. This short survey addresses practice size, readiness to upgrade and investments in ventilation equipment made to date.


The deadline for submissions is Friday 23 April. This survey is a welcome first step which follows our calls on the Scottish Government to issue much-needed guidance to the profession on ventilation requirements.





England: Prescription signing exemption extended


The Department of Health and Social Care have decided that the exemption to prescription signing will be extended to 30 June. This exemption was put in place to help limit the transmission of COVID-19, by suspending the need for patients to sign prescription, dental and ophthalmic forms. It was initially for a period of 5 months up to 31 March 2021, but is now extended for a further 3 months until 30 June 2021.


We understand that this situation will be kept under review. And, as more information becomes available on the infection risk from surfaces, we will continue to discuss the need to maintain this exemption with the Department. We will update you when we have more information.



Tuesday 30 March 2021



Update on the future of Public Health England


Yesterday it was announced that a new Office for Health Promotion will be established to lead national efforts to improve the health of the nation by tackling obesity, improving mental health and promoting physical activity.


Yesterday’s announcement follows the establishment of the new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), set to launch in April. With the UKHSA leading on health security, the Office for Health Promotion will focus on health improvement, leading at a national level to exert influence across the health and care system and beyond.


The aim is for the Office for Health Promotion to be established by the autumn. And we understand that the Government will set out more detail on plans and ambitions for improving the public's health later this year. We will continue to campaign for oral health to be understood within the wider context of health and disease prevention.





England: Carry-forward of overperformance 


We understand that NHS Business Service Authority has written to NHS dental practices in relation to overperformance during the 2019-2020 contract year. The letter we have seen says that such overperformance will automatically get carried forward into the 2021-2022 contract year unless otherwise agreed.


This may suit some practices well. If a practice did overperform in 2019-2020, and if it may struggle to meet the 60% threshold in the period from April to September 2021, that overperformance could help.


However, some practices that overperformed in the 2019-2020 contract year may be well placed to perform at least 60% in April to September. At present, we do not know whether any carry over from previous years can be used, say, in the second half of 2021-2022. It may be that some contract holders want to ask NHS BSA if they may carry the 2019-2020 overperformance forward to 2022-2023.


If so, you must email no later than 31 March 2021 to explain what option for your overperformance you want them to consider. NHS BSA will then liaise with your LAT who may contact you.


Our advice teams are happy to advice members on NHS contract issues.





Patient charges in England and Wales


The Chief Dental Officer for Wales has confirmed that no increase is intended in patient charges from 1 April 2021.


Similarly, the Department of Health and Social Care has also confirmed that there will not be an increase in patient charges in England from 1 April. We don't know whether there will be an increase in charges later in the financial year. We will update when we hear more.





England: Arrangements for NHS prototype contracts


Following yesterday’s announcement on NHS contractual arrangements in England for the first half of 2021/22, we are seeking clarification from the Department of Health and Social Care around the conditions to be applied to prototype practices.


Whilst we await confirmation of the position, there remains an expectation as set out for all other contractors that prototype practices will maximise safe throughput in the spirit of meeting as many prioritised needs as possible during the current time. We will update you as soon as possible.





Northern Ireland: Additional PPE financial support confirmed


Last week, the Department of Health confirmed that additional financial support will be made available to support practices with PPE costs. 'Top-up' payments will be issued to those practices where higher activity levels has meant a lower share of PPE funding in proportion to item of service (IoS) claims, under the abatement model.


This additional one-off payment aims to bring practices who have received lower funding for PPE proportionally up to a position of receiving £0.50 per £1 of IoS claims. It applies to the period from July 2020 to April 21.


Where 'in-practice' arrangements on PPE costs may exist, such as where associates have been asked to pay a proportion of PPE costs, the Department has suggested practice owners may wish to consider the implications of this additional payment.


Payments are expected to be issued in the coming weeks. We have highlighted how the PPE funding model has been a significant barrier to NHS activity and we're pleased to see this addressed by the Department.



Monday 29 March 2021



What are the NHS contracts for quarter one?


In this video I round up what is happening in regard to NHS contracts across the UK as of 1 April.


Useful links:





Scotland: Raising the concerns of PDS and HDS


Today we wrote to the Chief Dental Officer (CDO) expressing concerns about a number of issues raised by members during recent meetings of the Scottish Public Dental Service Committee and the Scottish Hospital Dentists Reference Group.


These issues include paediatric extractions under general anaesthetic which have ceased in many NHS Boards, leading to lengthy waiting times and a huge backlog of unmet dental care need. We have long expressed concerns about this situation and again urged the Scottish Government to work with Boards to find a solution.


We are also concerned about the recent BDA survey which highlighted a number of issues relating to the morale of PDS dentists in Scotland with less than two thirds (65%) of PDS dentists saying they plan to continue practising as a community dentist in the next five years; and inappropriate referrals to the hospital dental services may result in services being overwhelmed.


We hope to meet again soon with the CDO to discuss these issues and will keep you informed of developments.





England: A first step towards contract reform


Joint statement from Gabi Darby (NHS England) and Shawn Charlwood (Chair of GDPC):


“Today’s letter on NHS dental contract arrangements, issued jointly by Health Minister Jo Churchill, NHS England and the Chief Dental Officer represents an important new chapter in progressing contract reform in England.


The commitment to pursue rapid meaningful change across the next year will be particularly valued by those working in NHS dentistry. All parties have recognised the profession is seeking faster progress on contract reform. NHS England and the British Dental Association are optimistic that the commitments given represent a new start for system reform, with DHSC having asked NHS England to lead in moving the process forward over the next 12 months and beyond.


NHS England and the BDA look forward to working together immediately and at pace to take forward system reform, exploring how we can make the joint principles set out in today’s letter work for the profession and patients. Whilst we know that contract reform is not straightforward, we hope and expect that the six aims will offer a transparent framework to enable us to develop a reformed NHS system that provides high quality patient care and an environment where professionals can work to their full potential.


We will now begin the process of developing reform and will report back progress as soon as we can.”





England: NHS targets to rise to 60%


NHS England has just confirmed that targets for NHS general dental services contract holders in England will rise to 60% for the next six months, a level the majority of practices are currently unable to reach.


We are clear this is an unacceptable increase, building on what was already an unacceptable policy, and news comes just days before its planned imposition.


However, we have secured some needed concessions, and this announcement comes with a commitment to see through meaningful reform of the GDS contract in 2022.


GDPC Chair Shawn Charlwood has a full update on all the key developments.





England: NHS Abatement update


Practices should be aware that the abatement for the period 1 April – 7 June 2020, when dental practices were closed for face-to-face care, is being taken from NHS schedules from April.


The 16.75% deduction from NHS dental contractors’ remuneration for this period will be taken between April and July 2021. It will be taken in four equal instalments over the coming months. An estimate of the amount deducted each month would be £725 per £100,000 of contract value.


It should be noted that all UDCs (which will be classed as being established for the whole duration of the closed period) and orthodontic close-down contracts will be exempt from abatement for the period.





England: HEE survey looks at career progression of dentists


Health Education England are carrying out a survey as part of the Advancing Dental Care review to understand the career progression of dentists.


The survey looks at any factors you have encountered over your practising lifetime which may have influenced your career, including changes due to COVID-19 or any suggestions for the future.


Take the HEE survey