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Updates from week commencing 13 March 2023

Read all the updates that took place throughout this week.

Friday 17 March 2023


Understanding the NHS pension changes

Savers crave certainty and there has long been a need to lift restrictions and fix pension scheme problems. The NHS pension scheme has undergone significant changes in 2008 and 2015, and minor ones almost annually.

Most of the changes made in recent years have been perceived as negative. NHS dentists face a less attractive offering than they would’ve done 40 years ago. Despite this, the NHS pension scheme has always remained a high-quality method of saving for retirement.

We have been highlighting pension tax issues for many years, particularly the ways in which tax charges reduce enthusiasm for NHS work. The recent pension changes announcement from the Chancellor went further than expected and will be welcome news, for the significant cohort of dentists who benefit from it.


Wales: Highlighting diminished dentistry provision with Plaid Cymru

We recently met with Plaid Cymru's Adam Price MS and Cefin Campbell MS to discuss the lack of NHS dentistry provision across both of their constituencies.

The conversation was timely, following the recent comments on General Dental Service contract reform from the health minister in the Senedd Plenary.

The reality for patients in many constituencies across Wales is a widespread lack of access to NHS dentistry. We will keep you updated as we attend a follow up meeting to discuss solutions for a sustainable NHS service.


Wales: GDS contract reform at a stalemate

We are working to ensure that dentists' voices are heard by the government on the impact NHS dentistry contract reform has had on practices.

We have gathered your views through surveys, the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee webinar and supported the Local Dental Committee surveys and discussions. These show a clear picture across Wales. The volumetrics were inadequately planned and badly introduced, resulting in a failed mass-scale pilot throughout the financial year.

Many of you are facing mental health struggles due to the uncertain future of dentistry. Health Assured offers a wide range of support for members, and all dental professionals across Wales can access mental health support through Canopi. Our advisors are also available to help members with business or contract advice. Call 020 7935 0875 or email the team.

Thursday 16 March 2023


Wales: Further end of year reconciliation guidance published

We are urging the Welsh Government to revise the rubric in the end of year guidance to Local Health Boards. There is a necessity to move towards a holistic assessment of contract-holder performance based 

on what has been achievable under the 2022-23 volumetrics.

Further guidance was distributed on 10 March which was met with disappointment by the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee. This describes higher flexibility in carrying over clawbacks, with no mitigations based on the patient profile of practices or the work achieved.

This approach will force contract holders into individual negotiations with health boards to argue their value resulting in many practices reducing their contract value or handing them back completely.


Northern Ireland: Urgent notice for practices using CCG for eReferral

The Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) has issued an urgent notice to contractors in the Belfast LCG area regarding access to the Clinical Communications Gateway (CCG) for eReferral.

  • The Internet Explorer 11 desktop application has now been permanently disabled through a Microsoft Edge update released on 14 February 2023
  • All Internet Explorer 11 visual references including desktop shortcuts, start menu and taskbar icons will be removed by the June 2023 Windows security update, scheduled for Tuesday 13 June 2023.
SPPG state that this could have an immediate and direct effect on the usage and functionality of the CCG eReferral application. The latest version of the CCG software does not support a modern browser, therefore the application will not function correctly when accessed using Microsoft Edge. 

To ensure the continued usage of the CCG eReferral application going forward, a workaround to configure Microsoft Edge has been developed until the new CCG software is released. It is the responsibility of practices to undertake this reconfiguration and the BSO IT services and BSO eBusiness team cannot assist with the process.

All other applications hosted on the Dental Portal remain unaffected by the switch to Microsoft Edge.


Scotland: Using 'Equivalence' to apply for a Dental Vocational Training Number

Dentists from non-European Union countries can't work as NHS contractors in Scotland without being on the health board's dental list, which requires a Vocational Training Number.

To apply to NHS Education Scotland for a Vocational Training Number you will need to acquire experience and training equivalent to Vocational Training. Our advice sheet offers an overview of the issues you might face.

We are unable to offer immigration advice to dentists working under sponsorships or work visa permits, we advise you to consider the conditions that apply to working in the UK.

Wednesday 15 March 2023


Northern Ireland: New fees guide available

The Business Services Organisation (BSO) has issued MDS 755, confirming the newly uplifted Statement of Dental Remuneration of +4.5% on fees and expenses. An additional MDS 756 refers to version 2 of the SDR which applies the 25% enhancement to denture fees, plus introducing an increase to the Prior Approval Limit to £380 within the SDR. 


Our new health service fees guide is now available to members confirming the fees and charges of procedures. The BSO have also confirmed that:


  • Back pay owing from April 2022 when the uplift applies is being processed, to be paid on 20 March
  • EDI/software updates will begin applying uplifted fees from 12 June, resulting in further backpay for payments between 11 March and 12 June to be made intermittently




England: A date for the diary


It's now confirmed we will be giving evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee at 10:00 on Tuesday 21 March on the crisis facing NHS dentistry.

General Dental Practice Committee Chair Shawn Charlwood will be speaking alongside Dr Sandra White, Clinical Director of the Association of Dental Groups, and Nick Barker, GDP and Professor of Oral Health Science at the University of Essex


We want to thank all our members for providing compelling evidence that Shawn will be presenting to the Committee. The event will be webcast live on




Progress on pensions


We told Government that pensions tax charges were presenting barriers to the provision of NHS dentistry. In today's Spring budget the Chancellor has gone further than anticipated and lifted some of these, with the removal of the Lifetime Allowance. 


The retained Annual Allowance has also increased. There are measures to help the majority working in the NHS who have more than one NHS pension, with separate Annual Allowance tax calculations, that couldn't be offset against each other. Now they can, under a measure we proposed.  


These changes will mean fewer dentists face an Annual Allowance charge. However, the decision to freeze the level of tax-free retirement sums will undoubtedly cause consternation for future retirees.


We will be going over the small print and setting out advice to members shortly




Scotland: Next First Minister must halt exodus from NHS dentistry

Today we've warned the Scottish Government the future of NHS dentistry is now in doubt and the next First Minister must take urgent action.

Our latest survey of GDPs across Scotland shows over half report having reduced the amount of NHS work they do since lockdown. Now over four in five say they plan to reduce or further reduce their NHS commitment in the year ahead.

We've worked with MSPs across the political spectrum, who are joining us today in calling for urgent action to tackle this crisis. We will continue pressing so a sustainable system is in place come October.



Monday 13 March 2023


BDJ: Macrodontia, saliva contamination, and ethnic inequalities

The latest BDJ issue  explores macrodontia in more detail as well as saliva contamination and ethnic inequalities in child oral health behaviours.

Articles include:


Northern Ireland: A dental nurse apprentice's perspective

We have been exploring the benefits and challenges of nursing apprenticeships for anyone considering being one or hiring one.


Apprenticeships can be life changing experiences offering a chance to work hands on while pursuing the theory. For employers, an apprenticeship provides the opportunity to equip employees with skills and experience through a structured programme.


Our advisors are receiving an increasing number of enquiries about apprenticeships and are here to support you along the way.