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Coronavirus: your FAQs

We answer your frequently asked questions on COVID-19 and your dental practice.

Page last updated: 15 October 2021.

Here are the answers to your FAQs, which we update as often as possible.

 

 

Coronavirus and the dental profession

1. What is the BDA doing?

We are lobbying the Government making your voice heard and keeping you up to date.

 

We've also produced a series of helpful tools to help members - you'll need to be logged in to access them.

 

Abatement and associates’ pay

What’s happening with the NHS contract?

Our advice team have outlined what you need to know about NHS England's third quarter contracts:

 

Members can access this advice by signing in and if you're not a member you can join today.

 

Brexit, visas and right to work

Since Brexit, we've published advice on recruitment, Right to Work checks and correct HR procedures  to support you and your practice.

 

Webinars

Members can watch our webinars on various topics, including: associates' finances, building a private practice, dealing with difficult patients, PPE and stress.

 

Risk assessments
We created a risk assessment to support members in providing urgent care  . We've also updated it with guidance on record-keeping for NHS practices and triaging. And we’ve provided members with risk assessment forms for pregnant staff during the pandemic:

 

2. What is the BDA doing for private dentists?

Protecting you, your patients and your practice's financial viability is our driving focus. The reopening of practices across the UK has not undone the financial impact of the crisis on many businesses. We continue to campaign at a national and regional level on issues such as ventilation funding and PPE.

 

Indeed, we’ve been clear throughout the crisis that the government needs to step up to support private dentists, who are providing essential healthcare in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

 

The government’s inaction on key issues relating to private dentistry is very frustrating but we will continue to champion your concerns. Private practice dentists have a powerful voice within the BDA and we will continue to work hard on your behalf. We are your association and together we are stronger.

 

3. What is the latest guidance on COVID-19?

England

The latest UK-wide guidance  applying to all healthcare settings, which supersedes the previous COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Guidance, places primary care dentistry in the medium-risk pathway, and where AGPs are delivered in the high-risk pathway. An SDCEP review, conducted in January 2021 and Updated in April, has reiterated the importance of following this guidance.

 

There has recently been a minor change to dentistry's IPC guidance , making post-AGP fallow time no longer necessary between appointments for members of the same household.

 

Reviewed standard operating procedures (SOPs) have now been published. The document, 'Transition to Recovery', is available on the NHS website, and all key changes have been highlighted in yellow. These remain in place for healthcare professionals, despite the loosening of other restrictions. Deputy CDO, Jason Wong, summarised these changes as follows:

 

  • Symptomatic staff can access testing via the GOV.UK website (or call 119) and should identify themselves as essential workers.
  • Staff with symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home as per advice for the public. Staff who are well enough to continue working from home should be supported to do so. If staff become unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 while at work, they should put on a surgical face mask immediately, inform their line manager and return home.
  • Lateral flow antigen testing has been rolled out in primary care for asymptomatic staff delivering NHS services in England (see point 5 below).
  • Patient-facing primary care staff are asked to test themselves twice weekly and report their results to Public Health England (PHE), via the NHS Digital online platform. Please be aware that it is a statutory requirement to report all results, including negative, positive or void, but it is not a statutory requirement to actually do the tests
  • For patients who are COVID-19 possible/confirmed cases and contacts (seen in designated Urgent Dental Centres only) - avoid AGPs where possible, unless there is no alternative treatment option and/or the AGP intervention cannot be deferred.

We also encourage you to review our resources for providing safe care during the pandemic

 

Wales

Updated SOPs for non-COVID-19 dental patients in Wales were published on 17 December 2020.

 

They are to be used alongside the Welsh Government’s guidance to help dental teams complete Assessment of Clinical Oral Risks and Needs (ACORN) forms for patients, both routine and urgent. See our Coronavirus and NHS dentistry in Wales section below for more detail.

 

Please note, the latest UK-wide guidance  applying to all healthcare settings, which supersedes the previous COVID -19 Infection Prevention and Control Guidance, places primary care dentistry in the medium-risk pathway, and where AGPs are delivered in the high-risk pathway. An SDCEP review, conducted in January 2021, has reiterated the importance of following this guidance  .

 

Northern Ireland

The latest UK-wide guidance  applying to all healthcare settings places primary care dentistry in the medium-risk pathway, and where AGPs are delivered in the high-risk pathway. An SDCEP review, conducted in January 2021, has reiterated the importance of following this guidance  .

 

In July 2021, updates were made to IPC guidance in Northern Ireland to provide clarity on face coverings in the dental practice, self-isolation and international travel. Important points to note include that staff members who have been deemed to be close contacts are likely not exempt from self-isolation advice, and patients who are required to self-isolate following international travel should not attend or enter the practice.

 

You can find the latest communication on operational guidance on the Business Services Organisation (BSO) website .

 

Scotland

The latest UK-wide guidance  applying to all healthcare settings, which supersedes the previous COVID--19 Infection Prevention and Control Guidance, places primary care dentistry in the medium-risk pathway, and where AGPs are delivered in the high-risk pathway. An SDCEP review, conducted in January 2021, has reiterated the importance of following this guidance  .

 

Revised Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been published for dentists in Scotland. These follow SDCEP's recent rapid review of AGPs and publication of the four-nation dental Infection Prevention and Control Guidance.

 

Advice to wholly private practices was issued on 17 November.

 

We also provide resources to support members providing care during the pandemic. These are  designed to complement the SDCEP guidance, download them for practical advice on various issues, including indemnity, employment relations, and staff terms and conditions.

 

 

Coronavirus and your practice

4. Should I use the NHS COVID-19 app?

It is not a legal requirement to do so, but you may find the NHS COVID-19 app a useful way to monitor your risk level. If using the NHS COVID-19 app, the Government recommends that you pause the contact‐tracing function on the app when you are in dental surgeries. The app should not continue tracing your contacts during this time because you are working in highly specialised environment, trained in infection prevention and control processes, and wearing medical grade PPE as required.

 

You should also be aware that notifications from the app to self-isolate are not legally binding. You are only legally obliged to self-isolate if told to do so by NHS Test & Trace.

 

See guidance on how healthcare workers can use the NHS COVID‐19 app for more information. Please distribute all relevant guidance to your staff.

 

In Northern Ireland the Health and Social Care Board contact tracing app is in operation.

 

5. Should my practice use lateral flow tests?

There is no legal requirement to undertake lateral flow tests, but they are available to test staff for COVID-19. However, you should note that a one-off negative result in a lateral flow test does not guarantee that you are COVID-19 free. These tests appear to report a relatively high rate of false negatives.

 

A positive test result meanwhile does not guarantee COVID-19 infection and should be confirmed with the PCR test as soon as possible. You should inform your manager of a positive result and arrange a confirmatory PCR test via the established testing routes. If you test positive, you should self-isolate immediately, along with your household contacts until the results of the PCR test is known. If the result is negative, you can all stop isolating; however, if it is positive, you must continue to self-isolate for 10 days.

 

If your practice is using LFTs, please note that if you have tested positive for COVID by PCR in the past 90 days, you are exempt from re-testing.

 

Whether or not you choose to use lateral flow tests, it is essential that all dental practices continue to follow the current infection control guidance. This remains essential to reduce transmission and protect those around you.

 

6. What if a patient has COVID-19?

If dentists are providing direct care to a patient with COVID-19 and are wearing the correct PPE in accordance with the current IPC guidance, they are not considered a contact for the purposes of contact tracing and isolation, and are not required to self-isolate.

 

7. Must patients wear face coverings?

Current SOPs should be followed, this includes asking patients to wear a face covering. However, a patient should not be refused access to care if they are unable to wear a face covering.

 

For these patients, practices should ensure that they can take all reasonable steps to identify practical working solutions with the least risk to all involved. For example: offering the patient a mask, if the patient is willing to wear one; booking the patient into a quieter appointment slot; seeing them in a separated area, or providing care via a remote appointment.

 

If a patient is deaf or has hearing loss, you are advised to temporarily lower your face covering while maintaining social distancing. These patients should not be turned away and this is the safest way to communicate with someone who relies on lip-reading or facial expressions.

 

8. What if a staff member has COVID-19?

Symptomatic staff can access testing via the GOV.UK website (or call 119) and should identify themselves as essential workers.

 

If a member of staff has coronavirus, they should follow government advice. Staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result should self-isolate for 10 days, or for 14 days if they are admitted to hospital.

 

If the member of staff lives in a household with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, they should also self-isolate in line with the government guidance.

 

Standard sickness procedures should also be followed. Staff should contact the practice immediately and update them on when they will be able to return. They will either be entitled to sick pay or, depending on the terms of their contract of employment, statutory sick pay. Check your contracts of employment and the practice's policy on sick pay.

 

If a member of staff is providing care to a patient and wearing the correct PPE, they are not considered a contact for the purposes of contact tracing and isolation, and are not required to inform the patient for self-isolating purposes.

 

However, if a member of staff with COVID-19 comes into direct contact with a patient whilst wearing no PPE, inappropriate PPE or an PPE breach occurs, the patient must be contacted. The patient should be told to isolate for 10 days and be given guidance on getting tested if they develop any symptoms.

 

The member of staff should also submit the details of close contacts to the NHS Test and Trace service, which would then let any colleague or patients know if they have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and should self-isolate.

 

9. What if a staff member is told to self-isolate?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 by PCR test you should self-isolate for at least 10 days after illness onset. The isolation period includes the day the symptoms started (or the day the test was taken if you do not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days.

 

Staff staying at home for these reasons should be treated as if they are on sick leave. The government has said that statutory sick pay (SSP) should be payable from the first day of the sickness period. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible to reclaim two weeks' SSP for each employee who has been affected by COVID-19.

 

Ensure you keep records of any absence due to COVID-19 to be able to claim this back from the government.

 

However, this is not the case if you are pinged by the NHS app and told to isolate. The app is advisory and there is no legal requirement for you to isolate, but the Government strongly recommends that you do.

 

In England, must you isolate if a household member has COVID?

 

Government advice is that individuals do not need to self-isolate (assuming other precautions are being taken) if a household contact test positive. NHS advice is that staff will be asked not to come to work for 10 days.
 
NHS England’s position remains under review, as it is causing some disruption to the provision of services, and we have pressed them over any developments in relation to this review. In the meantime, practices should note that there may be times when it is appropriate for the staff living with a positive COVID-19 case to return to work, in line with Government guidance, in a risk-assessed way.

 

This should be done through a process agreed with an appropriate senior decision maker (e.g. DPH) and conditions will include:

 

  • If staff absence creates a significant risk to the health or safety of patients or service users, health and social care staff who have been identified as a contact of a case of COVID - may be able to attend work rather than self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated (more than 14 days after the second dose)
  • This must only occur in exceptional circumstances and where additional safety measures can be upheld. The decision must also be subject to a practice risk assessment process which should involve “the senior clinical leadership, commissioner and local Director of Public Health”.
  • These staff members should only attend work after having a negative PCR test and daily negative LFD antigen tests

 

We have produced a risk assessment form which allows practices in England to consider whether a fully vaccinated member of staff, who has been identified as a COVID contact, may attend work.

 

For more information on contact tracing and self-isolation, see government guidance. If you are in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland please refer to local guidance on self isolation.

 

Members should also note that the guidance gives employers the right to allow staff to return to work, but not the right to compel them to return to work.

 

10. When can staff return to work?

You do not need a negative COVID-19 test before returning to work after illness or self-isolation. Once your period of self-isolation is complete or your clinical symptoms have improved and you have had no fever for 48 hours, you may return to work. This Public Health England flowchart may help you.


If the member of staff's symptoms are not better after 10 days, or their condition gets worse, they should  use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

 

 

Coronavirus and the dental team

11. If I'm vaccinated, is full PPE essential?

Yes. Even once vaccinated, it is essential that dentists and dental teams continue to follow the infection control guidance currently in place.

 

There are several reasons for this. As government guidance states, it may take a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine. We also know that some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, and while this should be less severe, taking precautions reduces this risk.

 

More importantly, while a full course of the vaccine will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill, it is not yet known whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. It is expected to reduce this risk, however, until more is known you should continue to follow the guidance to help reduce transmission and protect those around you.

 

12. Is the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?

Yes, if you are working in a care home in England. No, if you are not.

 

While the BDA believes the COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and essential, it is not compulsory to have the COVID-19 vaccination. The vaccine is important in our fight against coronavirus, but practices should be aware that they cannot insist that staff have the vaccine.

 

We suggest that practices discuss the vaccination with all members of the dental team. Concerns about the vaccine should be discussed in good time and sensitively. The University of Bristol has produced a helpful Communications Handbook on this.

 

Pregnant members of the dental team may wish to consult this explainer on COVID-19 and fertility, compiled by Victoria Male, Lecturer in Reproductive Immunology at Imperial College London. It provides evidence-based answers to questions you might have regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility.

 

Pregnant members of the dental team are also advised to speak to their doctor before receiving the vaccine. You may also wish to review the advice produced by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), on pregnancy and vaccination, and on vaccination misinformation.

 

Nevertheless, after a discussion, if a member of the dental team refuses to have the vaccine, the practice has to accept that decision. In any event, practices should ensure that all members of the dental team continue to adhere to the standard operating procedures and to practice policies and procedures. The situation is no different for associates.

 

A practice is unlikely to be found liable, if a staff member or patient caught COVID via a member of staff who had refused to take the vaccine, unless it can be shown that their failure to follow procedures lead to someone catching COVID. We believe any such case would be very difficult for the claimant to prove.

 

13. Is COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for staff in care homes?

Yes. In England, from 11 November 2021 it will be mandatory for dentists and staff visiting care homes to be fully vaccinated. New rules will require all CQC-regulated care homes in England to refuse entry to anybody who cannot provide evidence that they have had two doses approved COVID-19 vaccine, or that they have a specified exemption.

 

This will include any visiting dentists and staff and evidence of vaccination status should be provided via the NHS app or the NHS COVID pass via the NHS website. Any exemption must satisfy the responsible person at the care home that, for clinical reasons, the visiting dentist/member of staff should not be vaccinated with any authorised vaccine and the Department of Health has agreed an exemption on a temporary basis. People working in care homes who have a medical reason why they are unable to have a COVID-19 vaccine will need to temporarily self-certify that they meet the medical exemption criteria.

 

This non-exhaustive list includes likely examples of medical exemptions:

 

  • medical contraindications to the vaccines such as severe allergy to all COVID-19 vaccines or their constituents
  • adverse reactions to the first dose (for example, myocarditis)
  • short-term medical conditions (for example, people receiving hospital care or receiving medication which may interact with the vaccination)
  • pregnant women should they choose not to take it.

 

In addition, individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccination abroad can also self-certify as medically exempt and this is because it is not clinically appropriate for them to be vaccinated in the UK if they have already received a partial or full course of vaccination overseas.

 

This is an on-going situation and we will update as and when addition information on exemptions are known.

 

14. Can I get a COVID-19 booster jab?

Yes. In England, both NHS and private sector health care workers are entitled to a COVID-19 booster jab. However, to be eligible you must have direct contact with people at higher risk from coronavirus (COVID-19), either in a clinical or non-clinical role. Administrative staff who do not have any direct contact with patients are not eligible.

 

Eligible staff are able to book their appointment online  through the National Booking Service or by ringing 119. When booking, you will need to self-declare you are a frontline health worker. Staff will only be vaccinated if official proof is presented on arrival and you will be told in advance what this might be.

 

15. What about staff returning from abroad?

From 19 July 2021, border quarantine is still required in England for all those arriving from red list countries and for non-vaccinated people arriving from amber list countries. There are different rules if you're returning to:

 

Practice owners cannot tell staff not to go on holidays. However, they can make it clear that staff will have to follow any public health quarantine advice on their return and may not be paid during that time or asked to treat it as a further period of annual leave.

During quarantine, if the member of staff can work from home, then they should be paid as normal. If this is not possible, then the question of whether they get paid will depend upon the circumstances. SSP is unlikely to be payable to someone who is under quarantine, unless they have the virus, have symptoms of the virus, are living with someone with the virus or with symptoms of the virus, are shielding or have been told to self-isolate by the NHS.

 

Whether contractual sick pay is due, will depend on the wording of the contract. Where the contract does not provide for sick pay, the practice owner could decide to pay contractual sick pay on a discretionary basis, taking into account factors like whether the employee had travelled abroad voluntarily and could have avoided the subsequent quarantine restrictions. Alternatively, the quarantine period could be treated as an additional period of paid annual leave. 

 

16. What if I'm pregnant?

The available guidance
Please note, the following is based on the current available government advice.

 

If staff follow correct procedures - undertake risk assessments and act on outcomes plus wear appropriate PPE - we understand that the dental environment is a safe one and that pregnant members of the dental team can continue to work safely. We now have established Standard Operating Procedures and a good supply of PPE which gives members of the dental team substantial protection against catching coronavirus.

 

A common-sense approach
As would be expected, managers and other team members must be mindful of colleagues who are pregnant. The following of all practice policies (such as wearing the correct PPE, hand washing and social distancing) to avoid transmission of the virus between team members is essential. Masks should be worn throughout the practice in staff rooms and other non clinical areas where other staff are around.

 

If you are pregnant and working in a dental practice, it seems right that you wear a mask and follow infection control procedures at all times, no matter your gestation.

 

Contracting COVID-19 just before or at the time of birth, would obviously bring substantial challenges to all involved and is best avoided, so the closer the pregnancy gets to the due date, the more the practice should be prepared to show flexibility over the parental leave arrangements. See government guidance for further information.

 

There should also be careful risk assessments for pregnant team members in a patient-facing roles with appropriate arrangements to sufficiently minimise their exposure to the virus, taking into account individual risk factors.

 

Pregnant - in patient-facing clinical role

Pregnant - in patient-facing administrative role

Pregnant - in non-patient-facing administrative role

Pregnant - in non-patient-facing decontamination/cleaning role

 

Self-employed
Pregnant self-employed members of the dental team are free to make their own decision as to whether they work or not; that said, we urge members to work together constructively to ensure that risks are kept to a minimum.

 

Vaccination and pregnancy

Pregnant members of the dental team are advised to speak to their doctor before receiving the vaccine. You may wish to review the advice produced by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), on pregnancy and vaccination, and on vaccination misinformation. You may also wish to consult this explainer on COVID-19 and fertility, compiled by Victoria Male, Lecturer in Reproductive Immunology at Imperial College London. It provides evidence-based answers to questions you might have regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility.

 

17. How can I support ethnic minority staff?

Emerging evidence shows that ethnic minority communities may be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Organisations should ensure that line managers are supported to have sensitive and comprehensive conversations with their ethnic minority staff. They should identify any underlying health conditions that may increase the risks for them in undertaking their roles. These conversations should also, on an ongoing basis, consider the feelings of affected colleagues, particularly regarding their physical safety and mental health.

 

We've recently conducted a significant piece of research into dentists' experiences of racism, as a joint project with the Faculty of General Dental Practice. Informed by the racism focus group led by BDA President Russ Ladwa, this survey has provided us with a rich vein of data on the reality of racism in dentistry.

 

It's clear that we still face a significant problem with racism within dentistry. BDA Chair Eddie Crouch has encouraged us all to recognise the reality of this, rather deny its existence. This would be the important step towards progress for our profession. For our part, we're continuing our work and research in this area and will update you when we have more information.

 

 

Coronavirus and practice management

18. Can staff still be furloughed?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, known as the furlough scheme, has closed. Claims for September must be submitted by 14 October 2021 and any amendments must be made by 28 October 2021. See our advice on furlough for more information and resources on this process.

 

19. How can I change the terms of employment contracts?

Practices may wish to alter the terms of employment for their employees. This might include: changing the hours that staff work, including breaks, changes to terms about clothing and uniform, and changes to pay or other benefits. There are two ways in which practices can change the terms in an employment contract, either in agreement with the member of staff or through dismissal and rehire. Advice should be sought on both options, members can find out more about the options available to them in our resources to support members during the pandemic.

 

20. How can I negotiate changes to associate contracts?

Changes are best made by agreement with the associate concerned and, once agreed, can take effect quickly and easily. The benefits of such changes should be clearly communicated. Associates are more likely to agree to temporary changes that will be reviewed after a period of a few months. We believe it is in both parties’ interests to negotiate sensible changes.

 

We have produced side letters for associateships in England and Wales that help both parties to work within the current situation.

 

We ask practice owners to make temporary, rather than permanent changes, at least until the situation becomes clearer. We also ask practice owners to not try and force changes that are too onerous or disadvantageous to associates. Before you take action on contract changes, members should seek advice from our practice support team.

 

21. What’s happening with business interruption cover?

On Friday 15 January the Supreme Court issued its judgement in relation to the Financial Conduct Authority’s case on business interruption insurance. Widespread media coverage gave the impression that the decision was a significant outcome for large numbers of small businesses.

 

However, many sets of insurance policy wording were not covered by the scope of the Supreme Court ruling. This was particularly the case where wording was already deemed to be clear regarding exclusions of coverage relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the decision will be felt more in relation to ambiguous policy wording, where insurers are now being told again to settle claims.

 

Our assessment, based on previous survey work, is that most dental policyholders are not directly impacted by the FCA decision because claims for cover were excluded.

 

Some QBE policies were overturned in favour of the insured by the ruling, however again based on assessment of the market, we do not believe that many dental practices have those QBE policies impacted by that part of the decision. There are some dental practices insured by QBE, but the Court had already ruled in favour of the insured practices in those cases.

 

There are some positive aspects to the decision for those claimants with an established case:

 

  • Insurers will now find it difficult to argue that they can reduce any loss that happened before lockdown, if that loss is because of a slow-down in activity relating to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Insurers cannot take any COVID-related issue into account in negotiating a payment
  • Prevention from accessing premises now includes partial prevention from accessing premises. Some policies in the dental sector had wording that required there to be prevention of access.

In summary, most insured businesses (in dentistry and across the economy) did not have a legal route before the Supreme Court decision, and won’t have a claim afterwards. However, the position on damages is now likely to be more simple to calculate where businesses haven’t settled but where claims have been accepted.

 

 

22. Can I avail of multiple forms of government assistance?

Yes. We have lobbied all four governments for a clear answer on this and at present we know:

 

England: The Treasury and NHS England have confirmed that mixed practices can make full use of the furlough scheme in proportion to their private activity, without endangering their NHS funding. This will be a relief to many mixed practices, and comes after consistent campaigning on your behalf.

 

Northern Ireland: A full list of the business support measures  that have been put in place in response to COVID-19, and the Department of Health have stated that they expect dental practices in NI will be eligible for support from both UK-wide and NI Executive sources.

 

Wales: Some dental practices were eligible for Economic Resilience Funding earlier on in the lockdown if their practice had a rateable value below £12,000. However, no practices are currently eligible for government business grants, because practices have remained open operating under the amber alert SOP.

 

Scotland: On 9 April, the Scottish Government clarified that mixed dental practices that receive NHS support funding, can also apply for support from other government sources to cover the private element of their income. These latter claims should be proportionate to the amount of private dentistry delivered.

 

 

NHS England contracts

23. What’s happening with the NHS contract?

Our advice team have outlined what you need to know about NHS England's third quarter contracts:

 

Members can access this advice by signing in and if you're not a member you can join today.

 

24. What is happening with prototype contracts?

In England, prototype regulations will not be extended beyond April 2022, and all practices will return to underlying GDS or PDS contractual arrangements from that date. The DHSC has indicated that, whilst important lessons have been learnt via the prototype process, the evaluation of the scheme has meant that it is not possible to roll out the approach more widely, with that evaluation notably suggesting a fall in the number of patients accessing care.

 

A reversion to standard contractual arrangements is likely to cause considerable distress for many prototype practices as they have adapted their business models and approach to providing patient care across the past decade. We are arguing for wider contractual change in NHS dentistry in England, but whatever the underlying arrangements come April 2022, the transition is likely to be hugely challenging for practices. We will be making this point forcefully to NHS England and the DHSC and doing what we can to make sure that prototype practices are supported adequately through this process.

 

25. What's happening with overperformance?  

We understand that NHS Business Service Authority has written to NHS dental practices in relation to overperformance during the 2019-2020 contract year, saying that it 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, and may therefore  want to carry the 2019-2020 overperformance forward to 2022-2023. 

 

If so, you must email nhsbsa.dentalcases@nhs.net 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 advise members on NHS contract issues.

 

26. Has progress been made on contract reform?

We've passed the tenth anniversary of the contract reform process kicking off, and UDAs are still with us. However, we welcome the recent statement from officials and the Minister which indicates fresh commitment to seeing reform through, led by NHS England.

 

This reflects the constant lobbying we have undertaken and is in no small thanks to so many members of the profession reaching out to their own MPs. We will play our full part in working for meaningful transformation that benefits patients and dental teams.

 

See this joint statement from Gabi Darby (NHS England) and Shawn Charlwood (Chair of GDPC):

 

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."

 

What's outlined on system reform appears a mixture of potential 'quick wins' by October 2021 and wider ranging reform by April 2022. We will update you on any progress made.