What Health Service and mixed practice dentists need to know as we approach the end of the financial year.
The financial year-end has coincided with a flurry of activity relevant to general practice. From funding support and the pending pay-uplift, approaching grant deadlines and the launch of lateral flow testing, there’s a lot going on.
Here’s what you need to know:
Financial Support Scheme update imminent
We understand Department of Health proposals to continue Financial Support Scheme (FSS) support into Q1 have been developed and are awaiting Ministerial sign-off. While we have still yet to see the final details, we expect the fundamentals to be broadly in line with current FSS arrangements.
We have emphasised the need for Department of Health to communicate with GDPs urgently on FSS arrangements for Q1, and this is expected imminently. Alongside continued short-term support, we want to see more certainty provided for the medium-long term.
Top-up funding and ventilation support
“Larger practices have again been excluded from this scheme”
The Department of Finance has also announced that businesses who received the £10k grant in the first lockdown are to receive a further £5k. If you receive it, do remember to declare it in the next Health Service support funding application. However, larger practices – who have received very little support for the loss of private earnings – have again been excluded from this scheme, and we have written to the Minister of Finance to express our concern on your behalf.
The £1.5 million Patient Throughput Scheme is open to applications. It is designed to provide financial support to dental practices for ventilation and other measures aimed at increasing patient throughput. If you’re planning to apply to the scheme, please be aware that application forms, along with receipted invoices dated within financial year 2020/21, must be with Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) no later than 30 April.
PPE funding and the fit-testing grant
“The DoH may also announce additional funding for PPE”
We are hopeful the DoH may also announce additional funding for PPE along with details of the new FSS arrangements. Alongside ventilation, PPE costs have proved to be a significant financial barrier to providing Health Service dentistry. We continue to seek to ensure all funds allocated to the GDS Budget are retained to be spent in the GDS at what remains a particularly challenging time.
There’s also a deadline approaching for the Fit-testing grant scheme that was announced last Summer. To avail of your fit-testing grant, make sure to send your claims along with supporting documentation to
GDS.Correspondence@hscni.net this weekend, as the deadline falls on 22 March.
Follow through needed on pay uplifts
“We continue to press for full implementation of the 2020/21 pay uplift”
Each year, we gather a huge amount of evidence from all areas of the profession, including surveying associates and practice owners, community dentists and other groups, to help make the case for dentistry. Despite the pandemic, this last year was no different. We continue to press for full implementation of the 2020/21 pay uplift, the funding for the recommended 2.8% uplift to fees and allowances for GDPs having been approved by Minister Swann at the end of January.
Lateral flow testing launches soon
Finally, I note that plans are being put in place to roll out lateral flow testing in primary care settings in Northern Ireland. These tests will be made available to general dental practices on a voluntary basis. Twice-weekly testing will be offered to all patient-facing staff as a way of identifying asymptomatic COVID cases.
For updates on these issues and all the latest news in dentistry, see our
live updates page. And know that during this difficult time, we at BDA Northern Ireland are working for you – whether you’re an NHS, mixed or private practice dentist.
BDA Northern Ireland Director