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The NHS Contract: the real rip off

Blog Author Mick Armstrong

Blog Date 08/08/2016

​This weekend the failed NHS dental contract was back in the media spotlight.

On Saturday The Times led with stories of ‘the great dental rip off’ (£) and a focus on the broken Unit of Dental Activity (UDA) system at the heart of NHS dentistry.

Some out there would like to say this profession puts ‘profit before patients’.

We know the reality – that our broken NHS contract system puts government targets ahead of all else.


Thanks to our members we’ve been able to tell the media and ministers where this profession stands. 

We know that over 90 per cent of dentists believe that chasing government targets is limiting their ability to care for high-needs patients who require complex treatment. That 83 per cent say the system is holding them back from preventive work. That for 7 in 10 dentists it’s standing in the way of taking on new NHS patients.

The facts is the overwhelming majority of dentists want change.

Dentists have had to contend with a fair share of hysterical headlines. As healthcare professionals we’ve been compared to Vivisectionists, we’ve been labelled “Natural Born Killers”. 

We don’t have time for name calling – our focus is firmly on securing what’s best for our patients.

That means a contract that really delivers on prevention. A contract that makes a decisive break from tick boxes and targets.

Reform is coming. The real risk here is that Ministers remain unwilling to turn the page on the UDA, and deliver a watered-down version of this failed contract.

This contract was designed to improve access and put prevention at the heart of the service. And it’s failed on both counts.

Ministers need to bring in a system which engenders professionalism rather than mitigates against it. One which has greater ambition, simplicity, clarity, and trust.

One that demonstrates a long term commitment to an NHS dental service open to all who need it.

Have you shared your story on the NHS dental contract? Visit our website to share.


Mick Armstrong

Chair, BDA Principal Executive Committee


Dental contract reform

We are campaigning for a dental contract that puts prevention first - find out what the issues are and what we have been calling for.