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Live updates: Coronavirus and dentistry

The BDA is doing everything in its power on the issues that matter to you. Our priority is the safety of you, your team and your patients and the financial sustainability of your practice. I am regularly adding to this page to keep you updated on what we are doing to help you through the challenges of COVID-19.


Martin Woodrow
Chief Executive

 


 

Thursday 26 May 2022

13:33


England: Fix the broken contract before primary care integration


A stocktake report by Dr Claire Fuller on behalf of NHS England and NHS Improvement has indicated huge potential benefits for public health by integrating dentistry with the wider health service. 


The announcement comes after we warned the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee of the accelerating exodus of dentists from the NHS. We believe that new systems have the potential to improve integration, but the current discredited, underfunded contractual model will limit much-needed progress.


The joining up of services could bring huge benefits to patients, but the integration of primary care will be undermined from the start if the government fail to move forward on the fundamental reform of NHS dentistry. 




10:02


England: Associates voices must be heard


Dentists' frustrations within the NHS are driving a move to private and mixed practice. It is vital that national reform negotiations result in a contract that works for everyone, including associates.

 

Sarah Canavan, recently re-elected Chair of the Associate's Subcommittee, explores the challenges facing the profession in her latest blog: "Associates must have options, and not feel forced into moving away from NHS care, if that is where they would like to stay."

 

The current situation cannot continue, the system must be fixed to help stop the exodus from NHS dentistry. Over the coming months Sarah and the Associate's Subcommittee will continue to meet to ensure the important issues are taken forward.




Wednesday 25 May 2022

13:35


England: What's driving the NHS dentistry crisis?


Morale among dentists is at an all-time low and inaction from the government is driving a growing exodus from NHS dentistry. Yesterday, Shawn Charlwood addressed the Health and Social Care inquiry into Workforce with evidence provided by thousands of dentists.


Shawn discusses the issues and the facts presented to the inquiry in his blog: "Many colleagues have simply given up hope government is willing to deliver the change we need. These dentists can't see a light at the end of the tunnel and are voting with their feet."


NHS dentistry is facing a crisis, every dentist lost to the workforce and every unfilled vacancy result in thousands more patients losing access. The government must commit to what is needed and fundamentally reform the broken contract. We will keep you up to date as we call for urgent reform.




08:47


Scotland: Transferring VDPs to NHS Education for Scotland


NHS Education for Scotland (NES) is transferring Vocational Dental Practitioners (VDPs) to NES as the lead employer for trainees rather than individual dental practices.


This change is expected to benefit trainees by providing a more centralised and coordinated approach. The change follows the successful transfer of Core and Speciality dental trainees to NES last September.


The current transfer requires Ministerial approval and is planned to take place in August.




Tuesday 24 May 2022

16:09


Scotland: Letters sent regarding bursary repayment


Several dentists have been receiving letters regarding repayment of the Dental Undergraduate Bursary Contract.


When receiving the bursary, students made a commitment to work in the NHS in Scotland for a minimum of five years and that NHS earnings would represent a minimum of 80% of all work carried out.


Dentists are now being asked to submit proof, signed by an accountant, that work over the five-year period has met the threshold. The Scottish Government clarified that if the 80% threshold is not met, a proportion of the bursary will need to be repaid for each year this applies to.




12:04


England: Media coverage on NHS dentistry exodus


We are campaigning on your behalf to urge the Government to fundamentally reform the broken contract driving dentists out of the NHS. Our recent survey into the NHS dentistry crisis has gained local and national press coverage throughout the morning. Our spokespeople have appeared across television, press and radio to highlight the issues.


Shawn Charlwood, chairman of our General Dental Practice Committee, told Sky News: "Overstretched and underfunded, thousands of dentists have already left the NHS, but many more have begun severing their ties. This is how NHS dentistry will die, a lingering decline that unchecked will leave millions of patients with no options. This Government has ensured many dentists cannot see a future in this service. Without urgent reform and adequate funding there is little hope we can halt this exodus."


Len D'Cruz, Head of BDA Indemnity, appeared on Sky News' The Early Rundown: "The BDA is very committed to try and make this work, we'd like the government to make NHS dentistry an attractive place to work again. We are before the Health Select Committee today to try and reform this contract…The government has just abandoned ten years of work at the table. I'd like to think there is a prospect for NHS dentistry to work, it needs commitment from the government, it needs money."


Our chair, Eddie Crouch, told the Guardian's Today in Focus how "a 2006 change in the way dentists are remunerated, the pandemic and a lack of investment has left dentists overworked and struggling to meet demand…But at the moment, the politicians want the public to believe there is a comprehensive dental service out there for them, that they are paying for through their taxes. And that isn't true."


NHS dentistry is facing a huge threat with patients facing growing difficulty accessing services. We will keep you up to date on the latest news as we call for urgent action from the Government on contract reform.




09:00


England: Half of dentists severing ties with NHS


Today, Shawn Charlwood, Chair of the General Dental Practice Committee, will be giving evidence to MPs at the Health and Social Care Committee inquiry into recruitment and retention across healthcare. Watch live from 10am.


Shawn will be highlighting the results of our recent survey, which asked dentists how they feel about the future of the service. It shows:


  • Nearly half (45%)  of dentists report they have reduced their NHS commitment since the onset of the pandemic, by an average of over a quarter
  • 75% say they are now likely to reduce – or further reduce – their NHS commitment in the next 12 months, the highest level in any BDA survey to date
  • Two thirds state their practices have unfilled vacancies for dentists, with 82% citing working under the current discredited NHS contract as a key barrier to attracting new staff
  • 87% state they have experienced symptoms of stress, burnout or other mental health problems in the last 12 months. 86% state colleagues in their practice have received physical or verbal abuse from patients.75% say they are unable to spend sufficient time with patients. Only 25% say they are able to offer the kind of care they want to provide.

Our thanks to the thousands of members who had their say. Armed with your evidence, we will be calling for urgent action from the government on contract reform and to ensure a sustainable funding settlement for NHS dentistry.


Look out for updates during the day on Twitter and Facebook. 




Monday 23 May 2022

15:41


England: New side agreement available


We have a new contract side agreement  available for use in the first quarter of 2022-2023. The updated version includes amended UDA targets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Due to the pandemic, NHS England has amended the requirements for NHS practices to meet their commercial targets for the period from 1 April 2022 to 30 June 2022.


If you have any questions, our advice team are here to support our Extra and Expert members with one-to-one advice. You can call 020 7935 0875 or email advice.enquiries@bda.org to get in touch.




15:38


Wales: Updated associate agreement available


We've updated our associate agreement template  for use with the contract reform model, please ensure you are using the most up to date version. Use of this agreement requires individual performance data such as new patients and recalls being available for the NHS targets.


For a period of time, reliable data about individual's performance against NHS targets may not be available. To remedy this, we have also drafted a side agreement  which should be used until reporting data can be accessed.


If you have any questions, our advice team are here to support our Extra and Expert members with one-to-one advice. You can call 020 7935 0875 or email advice.enquiries@bda.org to get in touch.




09:06


England: Government must freeze NHS dental charges


With inflation now at a 40-year high, we have called on the government to freeze NHS dental charges in England. 


NHS prescription charges have already been frozen to ease pressures on the cost of living. In an open letter to Health Secretary Sajid Javid we say the same logic needs to be applied to dentistry.


1 in 5 patients delay treatment for reasons of costs. However, confusion over changes to eligibility for free dentistry has already seen patients on modest incomes stop visiting their dentist entirely. Our analysis of official data shows treatments delivered to non-paying adults fell by almost a quarter in the five years prior to the pandemic. This translates into as many as 1.7m fewer adults seeking free dental care by 2020.


The government has committed to 'levelling up' access to NHS dentistry, to improve access and attract dentists back to the NHS. We can't see how that's possible without fair funding. We will continue to press the government for a fair deal for NHS dentistry and for our patients.



 

 

 

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June 2020

In June dental practices in England reopened, however PPE shortages, cash flow and childcare made the return difficult for many. Non-AGP care resumed in Scotland, as private practices began to re-open. Wales and Northern Ireland also saw an expansion of care, as restrictions were slowly lifted across the country.

 

We launched a toolkit for returning to face-to-face care to help our members re-open safely and efficiently. Over 6,000 members downloaded it in the first day for advice on issues such as social distancing in practice, PPE, fit-testing and employment issues.

 

We presented evidence of the catastrophic impact of the pandemic on dentistry to the House of Commons' Health select Committee, and pushed for clarify on financial support in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh. We also secured widespread media coverage for dentists' concerns.

 

Read our live updates from June to find out more:

 

Full updates for week commencing 1 June

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May 2020

In May, as lockdown continued and death rates fell, we helped members prepare for the re-opening of dental practices.

 

In England it was announced that practices could re-open from 8 June, in contrast to the phased re-opening announced In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We developed a risk assessment tool and advised members on how to return-to-work safely and efficiently.

 

We also took action on business interruption cover by engaging the law firm Brown Rudnick LLP for legal advice on insurers not paying insurance claims made by dentists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Our campaigns for PPE and financial support made progress, but government continued to drag its feet in supporting self-employed and private dentists, so we continued to push on your behalf at a national and regional level.

 

Full updates for week commencing 4 May

Full updates for week commencing 11 May

Full updates for week commencing 18 May

Full updates for week commencing 25 May

 

April 2020

Coronavirus cases continued to rise in April, with the death-toll surpassing 10,000 by Easter weekend. Urgent dental centres (UDCs) were set up across the country. Shortages of PPE for frontline health care workers resulted in delays, particularly in England.

 

We fought to support members and petition the government on issues ranging from PPE availability, to the financial sustainability of dentistry. We pushed MPs and secured widespread media coverage on these issues. Our campaign for private practices garnered cross-party support with 101 MPs signing our letter calling on the government to consider the plight of dentists. Dentists across the UK volunteered to help the response and were redeployed across NHS services.  

 

We developed tools for members, such as our furlough calculator, webinars on financial issues and an extensive FAQ page in response to member questions.

 

Full updates for week commencing 6 April

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March 2020

In March 2020 we saw a radical departure from normal life in the UK. The COVID-19 outbreak led to schools, restaurants and bars being closed and unprecedented restrictions were placed on dental treatment.  

 

From the start, we demanded the Government confirm a financial support strategy for the dental sector. Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged furloughing, loans and cash grants. But we sought clarity on support for NHS and mixed practices and we consistently pushed for Government to extend support to self-employed dentists and private practices. 

 

Wales became the first UK country to move to red alert status, which saw restrictions to all routine care and plans to open urgent dental centres (UDCs) announced. Scotland and Northern Ireland soon followed, however, there were delays in England, which we took directly to the Minister.  

 

With many practices all but closing, this was a stressful and confusing time for many dentists. Our advice team answered record numbers of member queries and we launched our Coronavirus advice pages to update you on the latest developments.

 

 

 

Full updates for week commencing 9 March

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