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Written contract vital for local NHS schemes

Several NHS England regions are offering contractors opportunities to participate in local schemes.

These are generally looking to address local issues of concern, such as providing urgent care slots or offering golden hellos to support associate recruitment.

The availability of these schemes is determined regionally by commissioners so there is variation in what is being offered. Some schemes are based on additional funding and activity outside your existing contract and others use 'flexible commissioning' to use your existing contract and funding to undertake different activity. For example, some areas are offering money for sessions to treat urgent and high-risk patients.

These schemes and the methods of communication vary depending on the local area team. In some cases, you may receive an email or in others, you may need to contact your Local Dental Committee for more information. If in doubt, you could also contact your local commissioners.

Some members have seen conditions imposed after the contractor has provided additional services, and payment has been withheld because those conditions have not been met. Emails often do not set out clearly the terms of an agreement in the way a formal contract variation notice would. Therefore it is strongly advisable to ensure agreements are made by a formal variation notice. This will also be useful if disputes arise later.

We advise contractors to ensure there is a clear contract amendment signed by the parties setting out the additional services that are to be provided, the payment for those additional services and any further conditions. Extra and Expert members can speak to our advice team by calling 020 7563 4574 or emailing [email protected] with any questions on contract variations.