Dental access contract still ‘unsuitable’ says GDPC
The unnecessarily complex contracts for dental access funding make them risky and inappropriate for dental practice, despite some changes made by the Department of Health (DH), the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC) said in a press release following publication of the final version of the ‘PDS Plus’ agreement developed for the current round of dental access procurement. The agreement runs to nearly 50 pages and 17 schedules and is available on the BDA website.
John Milne, Chair of GDPC, said:
“Although it must be an individual business decision, we advise dentists to think very carefully and seek advice before taking on one of these contracts as the dangers of breach are rife, and the consequences of breach may be very damaging to practices.”
The GDPC, advised by specialist lawyers, spent more than four months explaining in detail to DH why its proposed contract was unsuitable, one-sided and unsafe for practitioners. The first version, based upon a medical model, was wholly unacceptable and we advised members not to sign it. While DH made some significant changes, we still do not feel that the contract is acceptable.
The main reasons are:
The requirements are one-sided, leaving all the risk of a complex and untried payment mechanism with the dentist.
Fundamental new provisions, such as the payment mechanism, the need to comply with new key performance indicators and the ‘dental care assessment’ of patients should have been developed and piloted in conjunction with the wider profession through the implementation of the Steele review.
The contract is over-specified and a large majority of the controlling provisions remain, leading to intrusive micromanagement. Practices will need to devote considerable resources to managing the contract and ensuring that the requirements are met. For most practices, this will require a dedicated contract manager and for the contract value to reflect the risks and extra work required.
BDA members have been advised to take specialist advice if considering bidding for access contracts”.
A thorough commentary on the agreement is available for BDA members on the website which will help them to consider whether to tender. We have also issued advice to LDCs to help with negotiating improvements to the agreement. The agreement is not mandatory and PCTs can use the existing PDS agreements or GDS contracts (with the addition of KPIs and access payments if needed) to maximize the pool of good quality bids.
For information on the agreement please contact the BDA Business Team or call 020 7535 5864