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GDS funding multiplier must remain

As rising inflation increases the cost of providing much-needed NHS dental care, we have written to the Scottish Government.

We've urged them to maintain the Item of Service multiplier at its current level (1.7). An initial three-month review of the multiplier is due to take place at the end of this month, after which the decision to maintain, lower or remove the multiplier will be made.

At a time when households and businesses are struggling to cope with the cost of living, it is vital the multiplier remains in place. To lower it – or remove it altogether – at this stage would reduce NHS patient access at a time when it is greatly needed. Any lowering or removal would also increase inequalities, which would not be welcomed by dentists, patients, or Scottish Ministers.

BDA Scotland Director Phil Grigor warned that “the multiplier must be maintained to ensure adequate levels of NHS care are available for patients in Scotland. With inflation and the cost of living crisis biting hard, the 1.7 multiplier keeps treatments affordable for practices. Dentists cannot be expected to deliver treatments to patients at a loss, and such a move would risk an accelerated exodus from the NHS.”

In recent months, practices' lab costs have significantly increased, and without the multiplier being maintained at its current level, some treatments will not be financially viable under the SDR, resulting in much needed procedures being unavailable to patients on the NHS.

We have also called on the Scottish Government to improve its engagement with our Scottish Dental Practice Committee, including consultation on any changes to the multiplier. It would be unacceptable for the funding arrangements to be changed without consulting the committee. If any changes are made, we have stressed the need for time to communicate clearly and promptly with the wider profession to ensure you are up to date on any developments.