It’s now been six weeks since lockdown was declared in the UK to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here in Scotland, we continue to press for progress and clarity on financial support for dentists and dentistry and for plans to be made for dentistry post-lockdown. There’s a lot more work to be done, but I’m pleased to be able to highlight some of the progress being made.
Seeking clarity on financial support for dentists
We fought for and secured a revised funding package for NHS dentists, providing 80% of the average income from items of service and patient contributions. We also received clarity 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.
However, we continue to seek clarity from the Scottish Government and Practitioner Services Division (PSD) about aspects of the NHS financial support package.
We’re querying the calculation of the 80% average Item of Service for dentists who have recently changed practice or returned from maternity leave; the superannuation of NHS payments; and redeployment of dentists and their staff. We will be meeting with PSD next week to discuss these and other issues, and we understand that PSD will shortly update its COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions web page which should help to address dentists’ queries.
"[We're working to] highlight the precarious position of wholly and partially private dental practices in Scotland."
On behalf of private practices, we’ve written to the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance to highlight the precarious position of wholly and partially private dental practices in Scotland. We requested that such practices be included within all support measures for businesses in Scotland to help them remain viable during the current crisis. We’ve also voiced these concerns to the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, to all other MSPs and to all MPs in Scotland. We know this is a pressing issue for many and we will continue to campaign on your behalf with Scottish Ministers, while our colleagues also push the agenda at the UK level.
Urgent Dental Centres (UDCs): A consistent approach across Scotland
Following the Chief Dental Officer's announcement on 23 March, that all routine dental care should stop immediately, the Public Dental Service (PDS) moved quickly to set up UDCs in their local areas. It was great to see all UDCs in Scotland operating by the end of March.
The Clinical Directors across all Health Boards recently agreed a set of recommendations to ensure there is a shared ethos of care across the country. It is great to see a consistent approach being taken in Scotland. These recommendations will evolve to reflect a fast-changing situation as practitioners learn from experience and develop treatment parameters.
Looking ahead to dentistry post-lockdown
"It’s essential that we plan properly for the return to dentistry post-lockdown."
It’s essential that we plan properly for the return to dentistry post-lockdown. That’s why the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee has taken the lead in considering what General Dental Service dentistry in Scotland could and should look like post COVID-19.
Early discussions between SDPC Chair David McColl, Vice Chair Kenny McDonald, BDA Scotland staff and the CDO / Scottish Government will include:
- How GDPs return to deliver dentistry with appropriate risk assessment for practitioners and their staff
- PPE and availability
- Cross infection and decontamination procedures
- How dentistry will be funded; there is a strong feeling that practitioners cannot or, will not be able to continue under the current Statement of Dental Remuneration.
It’s very important that we get this right. So we will consider these and other issues to ensure any return to dentistry – covering all branches of the profession – is safe for both dental teams and their patients, and reflects the new ways of working following the pandemic.
I’ve never been prouder to represent dentists in Scotland and to campaign on your behalf. Things can change daily right now, so I encourage you to keep up to date on our work and the latest developments on our Coronavirus Live Updates page. It’s a tough time for dentists and dentistry in Scotland, but together we are making dentists’ voices heard on the issues that matter.
BDA Scotland National Director