The latest on contract reform, NHS financial support and targets for quarters one and two in Wales
The possibility of forthcoming targets and contract reform have been a considerable source of stress to many Welsh dentists. Our daily calls with members and most recent mental health survey are proof of this.
That's why, I was relieved to see the Chief Dental Officer for Wales set out the requirements and expectations for financial support for NHS dentistry in quarters one and two of the new financial year last week. Here's what you need to know:
Clarity on targets for the new financial year
We have been in frequent contact with Chief Dental Officer (CDO) for Wales on your behalf
"UDAs remain suspended, with no set AGP target." throughout the pandemic. Following
Dr Bridgman's letter last week, we were pleased to confirm that UDAs remain suspended, with no set AGP target. Complete ACORN assessments also continue to be necessary.
Practices are expected to see a small number of new patients in addition to their regular patients, to continue improving access to dentistry for those with urgent care needs. We know the number of new patients will depend on the NHS contract size of the practice. Welsh Government have said that patients previously seen on a practice's EDS contract who then require a follow up course of treatment and care, and do not usually do so, will be treated as a new patient to the practice's core contract.
We will be continuing our dialogue with Welsh Government to seek clarity around other measures; including application of fluoride varnish, new patient access and use of Attend Anywhere.
The future of contract reform
We welcomed the delay in restarting the contract reform programme, during this period of pandemic-related uncertainty. If the pandemic has been brought under control, a date may be confirmed after the second quarter.
"Your feedback via your LDC reps is key."What is clear at this stage is that the CDO is committed to moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to contracting. While the all so crucial final details remain to be seen, we support this in principle to move away from the 2006 UDA contract. We do not want a contract to be imposed on the profession,
and will continue to work with the Welsh Government within the contract reform process on your behalf. Your feedback via your LDC reps is key.
We continue to stress the need for piloting and testing of any proposed contract changes, so that colleagues have the chance to review alterations at the earliest opportunity. The recent restart of the Bangor University evaluation is positive, but on-going scrutiny from dental practices' teams is essential.
The CDO has also assured us that Welsh Government will support NHS dental providers throughout the pandemic and avoid placing additional pressure on the system during recovery. NHS BSA are meanwhile producing a baseline of practices' past preventative care, treatment activities and access. You can register for e-Den on the NHSBSA website.
Dentists in Wales continue to face many challenges, but we remain committed to doing all we can to push for solutions. We will keep you updated on our work through our live updates page.
At this time, I am relieved and proud that our Government heard our concerns and decided not to reintroduce UDA targets, as NHS England did. We will continue to be your voice throughout the ongoing recovery period and into the restart of contract reform, when we will consult with you about the future of the NHS GDS contract.
Chair of the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee