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Cuts will take a wrecking ball to NHS dentistry in NI

The British Dental Association Northern Ireland has slammed analysis by the Department of Health suggesting that cut of over £1/4 billion can be achieved without damage to services.

The document claims: "With a sustained effort across the HSC system, it is anticipated savings and efficiencies can yield in the region of £260 million." It adds: “While savings at this scale cannot be made without some impact, our analysis suggests measures up to this value can be delivered without long-term or irrevocable damage to services.”

The Department has confirmed the Rebuilding Support Scheme (RSS), which allows eligible General Dental Practitioners (GDPs) to apply for a 10% enhancement to the Item of Service fees claimed for Health Service treatment provided, will be cut at the end of the first quarter in 2023/24. Meanwhile, the DoH Budget Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) also warns that as things currently stand, it will not be possible to offer a pay award in 2023/24, further undermining a service with chronic recruitment and retention problems.

The news follows a recent open letter by the profession, warning that cuts will have a devastating impact.

Ciara Gallagher, Chair of the British Dental Association’s Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee said:

"Whoever claimed that savage cuts can be delivered without damaging NHS dental services could not be more wrong.

"Cuts have consequences and these will be irreversible. Officials risk taking a wrecking ball to services patients across Northern Ireland depend on."