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Updates from week commencing 8 February 2021

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

Friday 12 February 2021



England: Additional side agreement for Associates


We have created two side agreements for Associates in England in regard to the Quarter 4 targets.


The difference between the contracts rests on whether or not Associates are paid at a higher or lower rate. There is more detail provided in the video below.


Our original side agreement, (titled version 1), assumes the Associate being is paid at a lower rate, with a possible uplift when the practice hits its target. Whereas the new contract (titled version 2), takes the alternate view and assumes the Associate is being paid at a higher rate, with possible clawback if the practice does not hit its target.


Do watch our video which will help to clarify the difference between these contracts. You can also download the appropriate contract below:






Scotland: Bursary available for students as graduations are deferred


The Scottish Government has responded to our call to support dental undergraduates who face having to repeat a year owing to COVID disruption.


A bursary of up to £6,750 will now be offered to students at dental schools who opted to defer graduation (Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow) in light of the limited clinical contact students obtained over the past year.


On 2 February 2021, we sent an open letter to Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman, and Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney, calling for necessary action to prevent the next generation of dentists being saddled with unmanageable debt.

Scottish dental students can already expect to graduate with over £34,000 debt. An additional year of study without a bursary would have pushed levels to over £40,000.


We have also renewed our call for the Scottish Government to provide additional funding to dental schools to mitigate the financial losses associated with today’s announcement.





England: DHSC seeking your views via PPE survey


The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)  is seeking views from those who purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) which is in addition to the PPE which they are obtaining free of charge from the DHSC PPE portal.


This will help the portal team to understand what PPE needs are not being met through the current PPE delivery arrangements.  


The short survey is open until Sunday 14 February and takes just a couple of minutes to complete.





England: Q4 report in Compass now includes Performers


NHS Business Services Authority have created a Quarter 4 report in Compass for performers and Foundation Dentists.


Dental professionals should be alerted to this update, along with the revised guidance to reflect the new report, by the end of the day.


As outlined by the NHSBSA, the report "will assist you with monitoring your position towards meeting the Q4 dental contract management arrangements for 2020/21 year-end reconciliation as defined in the latest Preparedness Letter (Letter 7)."


Please download the update or visit the NHS Business services Authority website to find out more.





England: CQC registration delays


The CQC has responded to concerns regarding the delays in registration, apologising and saying that it is not reflective of the level of service that they aspire to deliver. They are prioritising the most urgent cases which “support the systems response to COVID-19” and have promised to look into ways to ensure they minimise any future delays to the registration processes.


Last week, BDA Chair Eddie Crouch wrote to Ian Trenholm, the Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission to raise members' concerns regarding these delays.


We will keep a close eye to ascertain whether the improvements happen and ask members to alert us if the changes do not materialise.



Thursday 11 February 2021



House of Lords puts the spotlight on dentistry


Earlier today the House of Lords held an oral question session on issues relating to the backlog of dental need as we emerge from the pandemic. Peers from both sides of the House argued that the recently imposed dental activity targets, which were designed to increase access to dentistry, seemed to be having the reverse effect, limiting access for patients who need urgent and complex care.


The Government was urged to "rely on the good sense of dentists to prioritise their patients" and consider following the lead of Scotland and Northern Ireland, where activity targets are less than half those of England. Questions were also asked about contractual arrangements in the longer term, with the Ministers condemned for not offering dentists any clarity on their situation just seven weeks from the next financial year, and continuing to kick wider dental contract reform "into the long grass".


Responding for the Opposition, Shadow Health Minister Baroness Thornton said the Minister needed "to go back to the drawing board, because the new NHS activity target was basically forcing dentists to choose check-ups over helping those in pain". She also raised the crucial issue of agonisingly long waits for dental procedures under a general anaesthetic, urging the Government to reveal the size of the waiting lists of children and adults with learning disabilities who need this kind of treatment.


In his answers the Minister Lord Bethell insisted that targets were a "useful way of getting a focus on increasing the throughput of dentistry". We were alarmed to hear him suggest that patients with urgent and complex needs should "hunt down an appointment" at one of the Urgent Dental Care Centres. With each of these centres serving over 80,000 people, we do not consider this approach an appropriate way to deal with the huge backlog of patients suffering with dental problems. We continue to campaign for the Government to drop the targets and allow dentists to prioritise the patients who need them the most.





England: PPE reimbursement until 20 February 2021


The window for NHS practices in England to claim for PPE reimbursement closes this month. It is accessible until 20 February 2021. According to the guidance, no further claims will be accepted after this date.


All claims must be for COVID-19 PPE used in the provision of NHS dental services between 27 February and 31 December 2020. You can submit your claims via the PPE Reimbursement Claim Form in Compass.


More information on PPE reimbursement claims.





Top tips for DCT interviews


Part of COVID-19's impact on Dental Core Training (DCT) has been to make all interviews for National Recruitment virtual for the first time ever. This is a whole new format and it is difficult to predict exactly how they will be conducted and assessed. Thankfully, we can assume that many of the same qualities and skills will still be tested. And although the process may be daunting, you're not alone in preparing for this. In a recent blog, Anurag Srinivas compiled some top tips for DCT interviews. This may help give you a good starting point and a bit more confidence as you prepare for this virtual interview.






England: Fluoridation needs investment


Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, promoted the idea of further water fluoridation during his launch of a White Paper on the future of the NHS today.


As part of these restructuring plans, which aim to reverse many of the Lansley reforms from nearly a decade ago, the Government is pledging to “streamline the process for the fluoridation of water in England by moving responsibilities for doing so from local authorities to central government.”


We welcome further preventative interventions to improve the nation’s oral health, however we remain sceptical as to the likelihood of real change occurring in the absence of dedicated investment. Not one fluoridation scheme has been implemented since the 1980s.


The proposals also signal wide-ranging changes to the way care is delivered, commissioned and regulated. COVID is expected to widen existing oral health inequalities as a result of unprecedented disruption to care and public health programmes, as well as poor lockdown diets and increased poverty. We want to ensure that the Government takes a joined-up approach, so that the service that emerges from the pandemic is better placed to deliver for patients.


Eddie Crouch, BDA Chair, has said:


“Any commitment here can’t be at the expense of dental services and wider public health programmes, which have been badly hit by the pandemic. We need a joined-up approach to tackle deep health inequalities that now look set to widen... Ministers say it’s time to 'build back better', and that logic must be applied to dentistry.”





Vaccination and the dental team


Dental teams around the country have been urged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the earliest possible opportunity.


Our FAQs may help answer your questions about COVID-19 and vaccination:


  • How can I access the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • If I'm vaccinated, is full PPE essential?
  • Is the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?
  • What if I'm pregnant?





Scotland: Update for mixed practices on £500 COVID payment


Further to the recent Scottish Government guidance to GDPs explaining how to receive the £500 one-off payment for helping Scotland cope with the pandemic, we sought clarity around abatement and whether there are considerations for mixed NHS/private practices. We have now been advised that as long as practices provide a degree of NHS treatment, the ratio of NHS/private work does not affect payment eligibility.


All NHS dentists and dental teams are eligible for the payment, including administrative staff, practice managers and cleaners, as long as they are employed by the practice. Only employees are eligible to receive the £68 National Insurance contribution; this is not available for those who are self-employed.





England: Complaint timelines extended for NHS providers



NHS England and NHS Improvement acknowledged that NHS providers may take longer than usual to investigate and respond to complaints. This is to allow providers to concentrate on front-line duties and responsiveness to coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as support the roll out of the vaccination programme.


All providers should ensure that patients and the public are still able to raise concerns or make a complaint, but expectations should be managed if delays are likely. However, you must continue to acknowledge complaints within three working days. 



Wednesday 10 February 2021



Pensions win for prison dentists


After five years of campaigning on your behalf, last week we were happy to confirm that prison dentists are no longer excluded from the NHS pensions scheme. If you have worked as a prison dentist, you may have been incorrectly excluded from the NHS pensions scheme. Your contributions can now be included retrospectively.


For advice on what this change might mean for you members can login to access our prison pensions FAQs  or get in touch with our team on Non-members can join todayto access our FAQs or reach out to the NHS BSA for more information.





Scotland: PDS facing many challenges


In a recent blog, Graham Smith, Chair of the Scottish PDS Committee, highlighted the massive backlog of unmet dental need and the future capacity concerns facing the service.


“Our continued operation of the UDCs has come at a cost, as the backlog of unmet dental care for our core patients has continued to grow. These patients include care home residents, children with additional needs and adults with disability.


“This was clear from the PDS survey we conducted late last year. As one dentist starkly put it: 'I would like to be doing my normal clinics, these patients are being neglected.' ”






Webinar: Building stress resilience


Login in to watch our new webinar on building stress resilience. Recently recorded, it's free to members and just £30 to DCPs. It will enable you to have a better understanding of your optimum stress level and learn practical coping strategies to help improve resilience.


Watch anytime: Building stress resilience


Or access Health Assured, our comprehensive confidential service designed to help members to deal with problems that might be affecting you. For non-members meanwhile, we have listed the different services available to dentists across the country.





Wales: NHS 111 clarify issue re: antibiotics


Following a concern that has been raised regarding prescribing antibiotics, we have been in contact with NHS 111 to clarify the advice for patients with dental problems. NHS have confirmed that they do not advise general medical practitioners to prescribe antibiotics for dental problems. Patients with severe swelling affecting the eye or airways are directed toward emergency departments only.





In the news: NHS reforms


Over the weekend, there was widespread coverage of a leaked report that proposes an extensive shake-up of the NHS in England. This document suggested that forthcoming major reforms, scheduled for introduction next year, could undo large parts of legislation brought in under the coalition in 2012.


Reflecting on this news, BDA Chair Eddie Crouch has said that “movement on water fluoridation is real progress” as “unacceptable oral health inequalities are set to widen as a result of this pandemic... We need more than tinkering with rules to deliver on prevention. Savage cuts to public health budgets have left many councils with few options, and existing dental programmes are under threat... Real investment here would pay for itself if ministers are prepared to show leadership.”


The Times - Ministers to seize control of the NHS in the biggest health reform for a decade
The Guardian - Boris Johnson planning NHS England overhaul, leaked paper shows
BBC - NHS: Government plans to reverse Cameron-era reforms



Tuesday 9 February 2021



England: Matt Hancock presented with proof that routine care is being prioritised over urgent cases


This afternoon in the House of Commons the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock was presented evidence that dentists are being encouraged to prioritise routine care over urgent cases in order to meet their targets.


The MP for Bradford South, Judith Cummins, informed the Health Minister that a whistleblower at MyDentist had shared evidence that the firm is encouraging this approach in order to meet the draconian 45% activity target for the first quarter of 2021. Ms Cummins went on to urge Mr Hancock to "look at this urgently and agree to revise these targets to ensure they do not undermine patient care". MyDentist dispute Ms Cummins' claims. 


This news comes as no surprise, as many members have contacted us to express their concern over the impact of these targets. We have been raising concerns at the highest level ever since they were imposed in December.


As part of this ongoing battle to abandon the targets we have also worked to ensure that the challenges facing dentistry will be raised in oral questions in the House of Lords this coming Thursday.


We will keep up the pressure on government on this issue until they reconsider.





Wales: New plans from Health Inspectorate Wales expected


Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW) have confirmed that their latest draft plans for dental practice inspections and registration fees are now being finalised and will be shared soon.


In their reply to our queries following a recent stakeholder meeting, HIW also confirmed that DCP-led practices will be subject to the same process as dentist-led practices, and that a strategy is being planned for inspection of online only dental care providers. Practices will also note the recent reduction in HIW fees and an extension to the payment deadline until the end of March 2021.





Northern Ireland: Update on FSS scheme and exceptional circumstances


The Department sent a letter to all GDPs in Northern Ireland on Friday, which deals with the process for raising extenuating factors in context of meeting FSS minimum abatement thresholds. It references the work we've been doing with the Department on your behalf, and specifically answers a number of the common scenarios raised by us.





Scotland: £500 Covid payment arrangements for GDPs


The Scottish Government has issued guidance to those working within an independent service provider setting, including GDPs, which explains how to receive the £500 one-off payment for helping Scotland cope with the pandemic.


This guidance provides information on:

  • who in the practice is eligible to receive the payment
  • arrangements for part time, locum and sessional workers
  • how to apply by submitting the relevant form to Practitioner Services by 21 February 2021

Please note claims received after the submission date will not be considered.


There is also an FAQ link which should address most enquiries and a dedicated email address for those who have further questions.



Monday 8 February 2021



England: Highlighting access problems and unreasonable targets


This morning, Eddie Crouch, BDA Chair, spoke to the BBC Breakfast Show about the access problems and reforms needed in NHS Dentistry.


He highlighted the perverse incentives that the targets put in place and the danger they pose to oral health:


“The government is setting up practices to fail at the moment, because the target that they have set, about 40% of the practice pre-Christmas were not delivering that. The financial penalties of not hitting this target are going to be very damaging for dental services. And I really believe, dentists should be prioritising on the people who need our services the most and not working on people who can wait.


“I’m very impressed with the way dentists have adapted to working completely differently to how we did in dentistry [last] February... I’m so proud of the profession and the way it’s adapted.”


Listen at 4:49 - 15:30 to hear more.





England: Warning on targets from Healthwatch England


Healthwatch England has launched its latest review, covering access to dentistry in the last three months of 2020.


The report has underlined the crisis facing NHS services. It shows that 7 in 10 respondents faced real issues securing both urgent and routine care. Chair Sir Robert Francis QC has stressed that "the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the human impact of years of structural issues in NHS dentistry and is now pushing it to crisis point."


In our response to the report, we have made it clear that the targets imposed by government are now forcing practices to prioritise volume over need. Patients with urgent problems need to be at the front of the queue for care.





Resources to support your mental wellbeing


Across the UK, the levels of support and access to services to help dentists cope with stress has been patchy. That’s why, 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.


We’ve also listed the different services available to dentists on a UK-wide basis, outlined country-specific services and role-specific support that may be available to you. We urge you to reach out for support, your mental health matters.





England: Updated orthodontic side agreement


When NHS England announced they were reintroducing targets in December, we published a draft side agreement for orthodontic associates. We have now published updated versions of this side agreement, which takes your feedback and recent changes on board.






England: ‘Big Bang’ plans for water fluoridation and NHS Reform


Leaks of government plans for health have dominated the media over the weekend, on what could mean the most far-reaching changes to the NHS since the Lansley Reforms of 2012.


Certainly, dentists may draw some comfort from plans to change the law to support the wider rollout of fluoridation.


However, as we’ve been clear with the press the real blockage to needed action on prevention has been consistent failure at Westminster to provide upfront investment. Funding can't remain the missing piece.


The leaks also suggest a welcome shift away from competition in health services and towards integration, an approach that could support the delivery of 'joined-up' services. However, there are real questions, particularly on how dentistry will be heard if budgets across primary care are going to be 'pooled'.


If this is the road the NHS in England goes down our voice will inevitably be a small one among many, and we will need to see protection of resources devoted to patients’ oral healthcare. The security afforded by current GDS and PDS contracts is also vital to enable dentists to invest to provide high-quality NHS care. We will be looking to see what guarantees will be extended to existing providers.