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NHS and commissioning

There are lots of regulations, processes and forms that dental practices delivering dental care under the NHS must adhere to. These vary across the UK, so here you will find specific guidance on the requirements for working and tendering for NHS dental services in the NHS for England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The responsibility for commissioning local NHS dental services in England and Wales rests with commissioning authorities (local area teams in England and health boards in Wales). Commissioning authorities hold the budget and have powers to contract for the provision of dental services according to the needs of their local populations. When they wish to commission services, commissioning authorities will advertise an invitation for prospective bidders to express an interest in bidding for the available activity.


The timescales involved often last for many months and the process can be arduous. Weeks of frantic activity alternate with weeks of waiting to hear the outcome of each stage, and you have no guarantee of success. Generally, you will need to convince the commissioning team that you are capable of delivering value for money, high-quality services from within a business-focused environment.


During the COVID-19 pandemic we answer your frequently asked questions on NHS England contracts and abatement.


NHS England contracts: What’s happening with the 2021-2022 NHS contract year?

NHS England has increased the threshold for dentistry from 45% to 60%, and in orthodontics from 70% to 80%. The cliff-edge drops in funding remain at 36% for dentistry and 56% for orthodontics.


We produced advice for the profession:

Advice - NHS England targets January - March 2022  

England - Side agreement for associates January - March 2022

England - Side agreement for associates (orthodontics) January to March 2022

Spreadsheet to help you work out NHS income from UDAs with various thresholds, clawbacks, abatements and offsetting


Advice - NHS England targets October - December 2021

England - Side agreement for associates October - December 2021

England - side agreement for associates (orthodontics) October to December 2021


England - Examples of pay calculations for BDA side agreements

Video: James Goldman further explains the UDA targets and side agreements for 2021

          Still image of a video with James Goldman

Blog: Ministers double down on NHS targets


NHS England contracts: What happened with quarter four targets?
We negotiated for some months with NHS England regarding the support package for contract holders in England. We refused to sign up to a deal which saw practices face steep financial penalties if they were unable to hit 45% of their pre-pandemic UDA targets.
We produced advice for the profession:

Advice - NHS England quarter four targets advice : Download our comprehensive advice for members.




England: Guidance on completing the Coronavirus 2020-21 year-end declaration form

GDS in England and Wales - guide to the standard contract

NHS BSA Dental Activity Review

NHS dentistry in England and Wales

NHS dentistry in Northern Ireland

NHS dentistry in Scotland

NHS dispute resolution – England and Wales

NHS England quarter four targets                           

Commissioning and tendering

Orthodontic tendering: hints and tips

Tendering in England and Wales

Related advice


Complaints handling

Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) - Guide to completing

Death and serious illness

Dentists parental leave and pay
Dentists long-term sickness and pay

Fees guide - Northern Ireland

Fees guide - Scotland


UDA value checker - Analysed data from the NHS Business Services Authority to provide an estimated UDA value for all NHS contracts in England so that you can compare your practice or the practice where you work to the local and national averages.

Commissioning and tendering


NHS England guidance





Guidance for commissioners

Delivering Better Oral Health: and evidence based toolkit for prevention
Dental Assurance Framework
Guide for the commissioning of oral surgery and oral medicine
Guide for the commissioning of orthodontics
Guide for the commissioning of special care dentistry
Overarching introductory guide to the commissioning of specialist services
Securing Excellence in the Commissioning of Primary Care Dentistry Services


The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and NHS Commissioners
Substantive guidance on the Procurement, Patient Choice and Competitive Regulations

Expert templates


Accessible information policy

Business continuity and disaster recovery policy
Complaints - code of practice for patients
Complaints handling policy - comments on Scotland template
Complaints handling policy (E-W-NI)
Complaints letters - NHS (E-W-NI)
Complaints letters - NHS Scotland
Complaints record
Complaints report (E-W)

NHS remedial and breach notice letters

Practice closure - patient notification
Practice closure - safe storage and retrieval of records

Practice information leaflet

Treatment plan and estimate

Commissioning and tendering

Audit - health and safety self-assessment  

Audit - healthcare waste

Audit - infection control self-assessment

Audit - oral cancer risk factors

Audit - patient waiting times

Audit - record keeping

Cashflow forecast template
Confidentiality policy

Decontaminating laboratory items
Environmental policy statement
Health and safety policy
Healthcare waste disposal policy
Infection control annual statement - England
Infection control policy
Manual handling assessment
New patient - practice standards and questionnaire
New patient satisfaction questionnaire
Pre-employment checks
Quality assurance policy
Recruitment policy
Risk assessment - dental practice
Safeguarding policy


Training essentials – courses for the whole team
Clinical seminars – an in-depth exploration of clinical topics
Webinars – live and on-demand lectures covering a range of subjects.
Conferences – information about the annual British Dental Conference and Exhibition, the Scottish Dental Conference and Exhibition, and group conferences for dentists in community and hospital dentistry
Branches and sections events listing


One-to-one advice

Extra and Expert members have access to unlimited one-to-one advice via phone or email from our experienced advisors. Contact our Practice support team on 0207 563 4574 or email: advice.enquiries@bda.org.


We may record telephone conversations that are advisory in nature to offer you additional security, resolve complaints and improve our service standards. Conversations may also be monitored for staff training purposes. You will be alerted to this when you call.