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The year in review

During the pandemic, BDA Wales has helped to keep dentistry front of mind during decision making, leading to greater investment and changes to working practices. With the end of the year approaching, it's now a good time to look back at some of our successes and achievements.

Christie Owen
Christie Owen Policy and Committee Officer, BDA Wales

Increased investment in dentistry

We campaigned across the UK in 2020 for the four governments to fund ventilation system improvements in practices to bring down fallow time. The Welsh Government led the way by setting aside £450,000 in grant funding for general dental surgeries in Wales (both NHS and private) to improve their ventilation systems. As a result, practices have been safer, and dentists have been able to treat more patients.

We were also pleased to see the recent decision of the Health Minister to commit to additional recurrent funding of £2m to address access and capacity needs in dentistry. Ms Morgan also committed to additional in-year funding of £3m, and we have made the case for it to be spent on improving ventilation systems in the CDS, to help dentists see more patients.

Recent discussions with the deputy CDOs have meanwhile provided impetus for additional government innovation funding for dentistry via the LHBs. We'll update you whenever possible.

Improvements to the GDS contract

We welcomed the suspension of discredited "Unit of Dental Activity" (UDA) targets during the pandemic. This has allowed dentists to focus on patients with the greatest clinical need, whilst dealing with a much-reduced patient throughput rate. We worked hard to secure this position with the Welsh CDO, helping to formulate an alternative approach for the recovery years.

This is a clear signal that we are moving away from the 2006 model and ushering in a new period of stability.

This led the Health Minister to make a recent statement confirming that NHS dentistry in Wales would not be returning to UDAs in the future. This is a clear signal that we are moving away from the 2006 model and ushering in a new period of stability.

Following months of campaigning, we also convinced Welsh Government dental branch that the Urgent ACORN needed to go. This has now been phased out, as was recently announced by the two deputy CDOs in Wales.

Standing up for practices

We stopped the inappropriate claw back of funding from over 20 dental practices this year. These practices were deemed by their health board to have under-performed in fluoride varnish applications earlier in the year. But we met with the Deputy CDOs and collaborated with the LDC to make clear that in-year clawback was not permitted. Subsequently, all affected practices were assured by Swansea Bay that the money would be reimbursed.

We stopped the inappropriate claw back of funding from over 20 dental practices this year.

We also asked SBUHB to work collaboratively with practices to support them in reaching the Fluoride Varnish target over the course of the Financial Year. The LHB wrote to the affected practices assuring them of this support and that there would be better communication in future.

Looking after your mental health

Low staff morale and stress is a key issue for workforce retention. Over the last few years, we have been pressing the OCDO to extend the occupational service for doctors to include dentists. This was finally brought in at the start of the pandemic, ensuring dentists had access to vital services during periods of unprecedented stress.

We conducted two mental health surveys in 2021, which both reveal the significant adverse impacts of the pandemic on the mental health and well-being of dental teams. We have raised this with the CDO and the new Health Minister and have presented the findings to the Welsh Government's Dental Committee.

Looking ahead

We are very proud of all that we have achieved during the pandemic. It's been a challenging time, but we continue to work hard on your behalf. If you are interested in getting involved, perhaps consider joining one of our committees. We will be holding by-elections in January 2022 and we welcome anyone who is committed to working on behalf of the profession.