Last month, we voiced our concerns to the two Deputy Chief Dental Officers, Warren Tolley and Paul Brocklehurst, about the illegal move by Swansea Bay University Health Board. Following this, they wrote to all GDPs and Health Boards to provide clarity on how the GDS contract should be handled with respect to this fluoride varnish measure.
This letter elaborated on several aspects of dental service recovery in this financial year. It addressed the misunderstanding over the fluoride application metric within NHS and mixed practices, while also providing an update to the Standard Operating Procedures. Details were provided in an annex for the assessment of routine and urgent cases that are seen under the NHS contract.
Swansea Bay University Health Board has now written to practices assuring them that their contract values have been reinstated and that any clawback will be repaid.
We remain in continuing discussions with Welsh Government officials about the clinical evidence used for the measure of fluoride varnish application on children under three and on young children deemed at no risk of caries.
We also raised with the deputy CDOs that at least two LHBs had intimated in recent written communications to practices that if they failed to meet certain GDS contractual conditions that UDAs might be imposed as a result. This was shocking to hear, given the recent announcement by the health minister Baroness Morgan that there would be no returning to UDAs as contract reform progresses. We have fought hard to remove UDAs from general dentistry in Wales and support the Welsh Government’s stance.
The BDA will continue to fight for fair treatment of practices as the recovery year continues and to keep up pressure on LHBs to operate within the legal parameters of the recovery year conditions.
Looking to the future of the GDS contract; the Welsh Government Dental Services Reform Strategic Oversight Group has been established to oversee the GDS reform programme. The group will start to meet soon. We will continue to play a key part in the contract reform process - we will keep you updated.