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Dismal government cut to Rebuilding Support Uplift

We have warned that cuts to the vital Rebuilding Support Scheme undermine the survival of Health Service (HS) dentistry in Northern Ireland.

The scheme, designed to help dentists recover from the impact of Covid is to be cut back to 10% from next month.

The Rebuilding Support Scheme has been depended on by practices, enabling the delivery of HS dentistry since April this year, with a 25% uplift on fees paid for health service treatments.

Today, it was confirmed that the 25% uplift is to be slashed to just 10% from next quarter at a time when soaring expenses for high street practices and the growing disconnect between fees and the actual cost-to-deliver health service dentistry in Northern Ireland has reached crisis point.

The Rebuilding Support Scheme has helped practices stay afloat in recent months, but this could be the death knell for health service dentistry.

We recognise the efforts that the Department of Health has made to keep the lights on in HS dentistry across Northern Ireland. Covid brought unprecedented problems across society, with dentistry particularly impacted. The Department of Health's Financial Support Scheme and Rebuilding Support Scheme were welcome, and we don't want to detract from the efforts made by the Minister and his officials over the last few years.

We are also seeing significant access issues across Northern Ireland as uncovered by our collaboration with a major BBC investigation with 90% of practices not taking on new adult patients, and 88% child patients.

Time is running out for the survival of HS dentistry. We have sought to work constructively with the Department of Health to seek urgent solutions to the immediate expenses crisis, but at this stage no meaningful solution has been proposed and current support has been downgraded.