Friday 1 May
Friday wrap up: What happened this week
Here's my weekly round up of what happened this week in relation to dentistry and the COVID-19 pandemic and how we're working to support you. We hope you find it useful.
Useful links mentioned in the video:
Our new furlough calculator for mixed practices (for members)
Blog: Our campaign to help private practices
Watch the videos of our webinar (for members)
Scotland: Seeking clarification on UDC activity and the future of dentistry
Today we received an email from Miles Briggs MSP (Conservative Health Spokesperson) which includes a much requested summary of urgent dental care centre activity in Scotland.
There were some surprising numbers (up to 20 April) which may reflect different NHS Boards' approaches to treating patients at the UDCs. For example, there was more activity in Grampian and Fife than in Greater Glasgow & Clyde and Lothian (the two largest Boards).
Also, Miles Briggs has issued a PQ asking the Scottish Government to clarify what support has been made available to private dentists during the COVID-19 outbreak. The response is expected on 5 May.
Next week we'll be discussing the future of dentistry and the return to practice with the CDO and Scottish Government officials.
This will include:
- How GDPs return to deliver dentistry
- PPE and availability
- Cross infection and decontamination procedures
- How dentistry will be funded (there is a strong feeling that practitioners cannot / will not be able to continue under the current Statement of Dental Remuneration).
We continue to seek clarity from the Scottish Government and Practitioner Services Division (PSD) about aspects of the NHS financial support package.
Issues we have recently pursued include: calculating the 80% average Item of Service for dentists who have recently changed practice or returned from maternity leave; superannuation of NHS payments; and redeployment of dentists and their staff.
We'll update you as soon as we can.
Northern Ireland: Clarification on the FSS
We have received an updated FAQs and clarification on the Financial Support Scheme (FSS) from the Northern Ireland Department of Health.
Members: Our new furlough calculator and demo video
The Government's job retention scheme covering 80% of furloughed workers' salaries is open for applications. We know many members, particularly in mixed practice, are finding it difficult to calculate the amount of money they are entitled to claim.
So, to help you, we have created a furlough calculator for mixed practices. And to make it even simpler, we've also put together a demo video on how to use this tool.
Thursday 30 April 2020
Uniting to address the concerns of private dentists
I mentioned in my blog on private practices, that we have been talking to the newly formed British Association of Private Dentistry. Yesterday we had a productive meeting and have agreed to work together to address the concerns of private dentists. We aim to secure financial support and a safe return to working as soon as possible. It is clear that both our organisations are pursuing the same goals for the profession.
Scotland: Seeking clarification on NHS funding support
We are continuing to seek clarity from the Scottish Government and Practitioner Services Division (PSD) regarding the NHS financial support package.
We are pursuing clarification on calculating the 80% average Item of Service for dentists who have recently changed practice or recently returned from maternity leave; superannuation of NHS payments; and redeployment of dentists and their staff.
We are also urging PSD to update its COVID 19 Frequently Asked Questions web page (last updated on 6 April).
What we are doing to help private practices
The government has continued to overlook private practices and associates who provide private care. That is why we are undeterred in our efforts to press the government for an equitable resolution. In my latest blog I outline how we are working to make this resolution a reality.
Wednesday 29 April 2020
Our webinar for members is now online
This afternoon our expert advisors held a webinar to answer your questions on:
- Financial packages on offer
- Furloughing and retaining your staff
- Paying associates in NHS and mixed practice
We've edited the webinar into four sections so you can find the information you want easily.
Members, you will need to login to watch the recordings.
Prescribing antibiotics in urgent dental care
We have joined up with Public Health England, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Faculty of General Dental Practice to send an open letter to support dentists in appropriate prescribing of antibiotics in urgent dental care.
Member webinar to start at 14.00
Our advice team are looking forward to answering your questions as part of the members' webinar at 14.00.
If you have already signed up to attend, please follow the link you received in your confirmation email.
If you have not yet registered, don't worry. The webinar is fully booked, but we will record it and members will be able to view it online afterwards.
BDA President's term of office to be extended
Roz McMullan was due to step down and a new BDA president was due to be inaugurated this week. However, due to the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, we've asked Roz to extend her term. I'm happy to say that she's agreed to stay on as president through the summer, while also working to assist the COVID-19 response in Altnagelvin hospital in Londonderry.
Roz has said: "I'm proud of the things we've achieved in the last year and inspired by dedication of BDA colleagues who are working tirelessly on our behalf. It's now more important than ever for us to stand together and support each other, so I've agreed to support the BDA by extending my term of office."
Tuesday 28 April 2020
Northern Ireland: Financial support issues raised with DoH/HSCB
Richard Graham (Chair, NIDPC) and Tristen Kelso (BDA NI Director) have spoken with DoH/HSCB officials to discuss a range of issues regarding the Financial Support Scheme (FSS). This has provided clarity on some funding-related issues.
Regarding dentists returning from maternity leave, we have been advised that any low IoS months over maternity period will be discounted. We expect additional payments to be made to those negatively impacted because of maternity, this Friday.
The Department have also promised to provide guidance to assist practitioners make sense of their payments. They will be advising practitioners to raise individual concerns via the GDS.Corresponsence@hscni.net email address.
We are continuing to push for clarity on your behalf. For instance, we have argued that FSS payments should be pensionable, and have asked DoH to clarify this before next payments are issued. We will update you once more information becomes available.
Supporting you with remote dental consultations
Remote dental consultations with your patients are the new normal and we want to help you adapt to these new ways of working. That's why we're providing advice to members on how to conduct a remote consultation with your patients and avoid some of the common pitfalls.
In this, we highlight technical issues to look out for, signpost clinical guidance to support your decision-making and also touch upon areas unique to remote consultations. We want to help you maximise the clinical time you spend with your patients. We hope this will give you a loose framework around which to structure your remote consultations whilst keeping you, your teams and your patients safe.
Conservative MPs appeal to the Chancellor for rates relief
We are delighted to see 28 Conservative MPs from across England have sent a message to the Chancellor asking for relief from business rates to be extended to mixed and private dental practices.
In their letter to Rishi Sunak, they note:
"These are not wealthy people; in many instances they are small local practices employing one or two dental or other healthcare practitioners. In many ways, they are very akin to the retail, hospitality and leisure sector, yet they supply an essential healthcare service which, in normal times, would ease the strain on NHS providers.
"By extending the business rate relief, the Government would ensure the long-term viability of a vast number of businesses providing an essential service up and down the country, while similarly protecting individuals who would otherwise be forced to enter the welfare system. These are frontline staff, who are clearly as vital to the community and the economy as those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector, and extremely deserving of this support."
Thank you to all our members for making local MPs aware of the crisis facing this service, via email and social media.
We are continuing to apply pressure so that every practice, and every practitioner receives the support they need.
Calculator for furloughing staff in a mixed practice
The Government's job retention scheme covering 80% of furloughed workers' salaries is open for applications. Many, particularly those in mixed practice, are finding it difficult to calculate the amount of money they are entitled to claim.
We've created a tool to help members work out the amount of money you would be entitled to claim from the Government if you were to furlough some of your staff for a given period of time.
Please note this tool is indicative and will be subject to refinement.
NHS Death in Service cover extended
Last night DHSC confirmed that death benefits would be extended to all front line NHS workers in England who die from coronavirus during the course of their work. We had previously made representations to Government that such a scheme should include dental practice staff who aren't eligible for membership of the NHS Pension Scheme.
We welcome the fact that this cover has now been extended. This new scheme will provide a £60,000 tax free payment to the families of anyone taken by Coronavirus. However, we note that the value of this is substantially less than what is provided for members of the NHS Pension Scheme.
The announcement also confirmed that this scheme will be replicated in Wales, and funding is available for similar arrangements in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Beyond this initial announcement, full details are not yet available. We continue to engage with Government to ensure financial security for dentistry and will update you once more information becomes available.
Holding a minute's silence at 11.00
Like many across the UK, we will be taking a minute's silence at 11.00 today to commemorate healthcare workers who have died of COVID-19. I encourage dentists throughout the country to come together to mark this with us. In these difficult times, our priority remains to protect you, your patients, your practice and your profession.
Monday 27 April 2020
What's happening this week
Support for private dentistry
Today we've joined up with 16 other health sector membership bodies and written to the Chancellor to request financial support for self-employed workers and small businesses. This is part of our ongoing campaign to support dentists working predominantly in private dentistry.
NHS financial support mechanisms
Whilst the outline of support for NHS dentistry has been established across the UK, there are still some key issues that we need to resolve. In Northern Ireland, we have approached Health Minister Robin Swann appealing for amendments to the Financial Support Scheme, particularly in relation to payments to workers who have been on maternity leave. We have already received confirmation that new proposals are being worked up. We'll be talking to the Scottish Government this week to discuss queries from GDPs on the financial support package. Meanwhile in England we anticipate clarity this week on the outstanding issue of the level of deduction being applied to contract values for expenses.
We'll keep you updated on the progress.
This is an issue dominating both internal BDA discussions and dialogue with governments this week. In Wales, we expect early discussions with Chief Dental Officer Colette Bridgman on how the contractual framework might develop. In Scotland and England, our representatives are developing position papers on issues to consider around the return to practise. Our talks with NHS England about the contractual implications of any easing of the current lockdown will continue.
Webinar for BDA members
This Wednesday 29 April at 14:00 we're hosting a webinar for members. We'll be answering questions on financial packages, furloughing and paying associates. If you have a question please post it here beforehand as there won't be a chance to ask questions live during the webinar.
Northern Ireland: DoH promise to amend the FSS
We have received a reply from the Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann to our letter sent this morning in which we outlined our concerns with the current Financial Support Schemes (FSS) for dentists. In his response the Health Minister refers to Department of Health proposals to amend the FSS to ensure the scheme is more fair for maternity and long term illness cases.
Individual coaching for primary care staff
The NHS is offering coaching support for to all clinical and non-clinical primary care workers employed by or contracted to the NHS. The support aims to help staff through the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 and individual coaching can be booked on their web page: Looking after you too.
The aim of this coaching, which will be carried out by video link or telephone with highly experienced coaches, is to provide staff with opportunities to process experiences, develop coping skills, deal with difficult conversations and develop strategies for self-management in response to these difficult circumstances.
This service has been developed in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners and will complement the wider range of health and wellbeing resources that are being launched.
Membership bodies unite to call for financial support for self-employed
The BDA has joined forces with 16 other membership bodies representing nearly 300,000 members, ranging from optometrists, osteopaths and of course, dentists, to call on the government to provide financial support to self-employed professionals and small businesses. These members have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to access any of the existing schemes.
We have all spent the lockdown period voicing our concerns to the highest levels within government, and although the disciplines involved are diverse, the core issues affecting small businesses are the same. We have therefore decided to join forces to send a strong and united message to the Chancellor.
In a letter sent to Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP today, we have requested that directors of small businesses gain access to either the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). We also urge the need to expedite the process of delivering funds under SEISS before it is due to go live in June, and to make the process of accessing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) a smoother one.
Latest news on postgraduate dental education
As discussed previously, we raised our concerns with COPDEND regarding foundation dentists (FDs) and the lack of information on what the approach to satisfactory completion will be.
COPDEND have now responded to our concerns. While they do not provide any specific detail, they do confirm that new guidance will be shared shortly. This guidance should take into account the different circumstances in which FDs and their educational supervisors have been working, making it clear that, wherever possible, the process should support career progression of current FDs.
Furthermore, Health Education England (HEE) and the deaneries in the devolved countries, have published confirmation of their approach to recruitment into dental core training (DCT), and specialty training for the current recruitment rounds. As face-to-face assessments are suspended, DCT recruitment will be based on a situational judgement test (SJT) while specialty recruitment will use a self-assessment process.
Dental trainees undergoing recruitment to the next level should have been contacted last week with information on the outlined process. The statement is available on the HEE website. The same statement confirms that DFT places will be allocated on 11 June as planned.
See our FAQ number 21 for more on postgraduate education.
Northern Ireland: Pressing for FSS resolutions
We have requested an urgent meeting with the Department or Health (DoH) and the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) regarding financial support payments to dentists in Northern Ireland.
We have previously expressed our concerns regarding aspects of the Financial Support Scheme (FSS), particularly in regard to dentists returning to work following a period of maternity leave.
In a letter sent this morning to Minister Swann we have reiterated these concerns while also raising the inadequate way in which dentistry is administered in the Department (lack of resources). Once again, we are also pushing for DDRB backpay owing from 2019/20 pay uplift to be paid immediately.