2022 has been a difficult year for dentists, our advice team has been talking to members and giving support with a wide range of issues.
We are at the end of the phone for Extra and Expert members, to support you through any difficulties you face in practice. Members facing frustration from patients, difficulty recruiting staff and uncertainty around contract reform have been reaching out to us this year.
Coping with abusive patients
"Dentists are increasingly facing abuse from patients who are frustrated with long waiting times."
Dentists are increasingly facing abuse from patients who are frustrated with long waiting times. If you are struggling with an abusive patient, you have the right to refuse treatment if you have reasonable cause. We have advice available on tackling abusive patients in
for Essential members.
Extra and Expert members facing difficulties with abusive patients can also get help from us with checking letters or seeking advice by calling or
emailing us. Our Expert
practice information leaflet template
includes details of what action you may take if patients become violent or abusive towards staff members.
BDJ In Practice has also featured several articles on
managing patient expectations in the current climateof long waiting times and how to cope with the
increase in violent or aggressive patients. The onset of the pandemic has decreased the availability of appointments, but patient need and demand has increased, leading to frustrations.
Contract issues and a recruitment crisis
"Many practices that hold an NHS contract are increasingly contacting us, finding it difficult to meet NHS contractual targets and recruit new staff."
Many practices that hold an NHS contract are increasingly contacting us, finding it difficult to meet NHS contractual targets and recruit new staff. This leaves providers of NHS General Dental Service (GDS) and Personal Dental Service (PDS) in a terrible situation.
Units of Dental Activity (UDA's) are often not renumerated sufficiently well to make books balance. Practices are contacting us for advice as more associates are reducing NHS commitments or leaving the NHS altogether.
Practices that are seeking to reduce their UDA targets and can do so by submitting a temporary or permanent variation request to their local commissioner. A request needs to be clear as to whether it is a temporary or permanent request to rebase the contract and for what UDA target. Practices should seek to engage with commissioners where possible to reach an agreement.
Are apprenticeships the answer for support staff?
Within a competitive and reduced recruitment pool for qualified dental nurses, dental practices are turning to recruit new trainee dental nurses and administration staff through an apprenticeship programme.
An apprenticeship is a structured government funded training programme that equips employees with the skills and experience required for the job. It is proving to be more cost effective for practices, rather than the traditional trainee dental nurse route where the employer paid the training fees in advance.
If you are considering taking on an apprentice, you should think about why you are doing it, the benefits to your practice and provide opportunities for progression and promotion to a qualified role within the practice. You can work with the educational providers to offer a structured training and development programme for your apprentice, which can result in increased loyalty and productivity.
Growing your own talent often leads to apprentices on fixed term apprenticeship contracts staying long term with your practice. There are certain rules you must abide by for taking on an apprentice such as, you must
pay at least the minimum wageand pay your apprentice for time spent training or studying for their apprenticeship, while at work or at a college or training organisation.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Educationcan support you in the process of appointing an apprentice.
Our Practice Support Team are increasingly receiving more enquiries about apprenticeships and are available to advise on the intricacies of employment, the rules around National Minimum Wage requirements and can also provide an apprenticeship employment contract.
"One thing is clear, practice owners who feel alone in their predicament, are not."
One thing is clear, practice owners who feel alone in their predicament, are not. Our advisors are fielding many calls and emails from practice owners looking for advice on what can be done.
The BDA Practice Support Team and NHS & Business Team are here to help members make good, informed, decisions in relation to contractual or recruitment issues and to support you and your business through these difficult times.
Head of Operations, BDA Advisory Services
Head of NHS, Business and General Practice at the BDA