The letter indicates the Welsh Government wishes to start formal General Dental Service (GDS) contract negotiations in March.
It asks for our mandate to be delivered at the start of March, with the proposed schedule suggesting that the formal negotiation process would be concluded by May. We have responded to the government this week saying the timescale is not feasible.
We have begun making the necessary arrangements, Dr Gidney spelt out the constraints necessitated by our democratic processes; and that the individual committee members making up the negotiating team cannot be expected to disrupt clinical and training commitments which are mapped out many weeks ahead.
We have strongly questioned whether the negotiation process could be concluded in a couple of months, given our experience elsewhere as we can find no imperative for rushing the negotiation process.
The WGDPC will devise a mandate through a proper process which includes engagement with the profession. We are currently doing this through our blogs and surveys between February and March.
Dr Gidney has voiced the profession’s concerns about where GDS contract reform currently stands in his reply to Welsh Government, emphasising that the likely levels of clawback emanating from the untested volumetric targets this year will have a detrimental impact on NHS dentistry. This is patently clear from dentists’ feedback.
In our view, these burning issues warrant urgent discussions with government officials and we have asked for eleventh-hour talks.
Once the negotiation process commences all the participants are bound by strict confidentiality. It is common diplomacy to keep communications about government policy at a low key during the negotiation process. However, we still have several vital messages to get into the public domain over the next few weeks before we enter that phase.