BDA condemns Welsh Government over clawback money

BDA condemns Welsh Government over clawback money

The BDA claims that the Welsh Government's creative accounting does not equal new investment. This has been disputed by Health Secretary Vaughan Gething who said the £1.3m was new money and part of wider funding to improve the service in Wales. The Cardiff and Vale health board will receive £450,000 and Aneurin Bevan £300,000 to create 10,000 extra NHS places to meet "a growing need".

Figures obtained by the BDA show that £6.6 million was taken out of the dental budget in 2016, as a result of clawback. But, they claim, it was not reallocated back into NHS dental services in Wales. The money pledged by the Welsh Government to expand dental services represents just one quarter of the sum taken out of dental budget each year, says the BDA. 

But the Welsh Government stressed that it is not taking money from dentistry to balance its books - it was the health boards that claw back money. It is up to the boards to decide that money is spent, but the Welsh Government press office said it "expects" them to spend it on dentistry.

Responding to the BDA, a Welsh Government spokesman said: "This is new investment - it is disappointing BDA Wales do not see it as such and are not accurately reporting the position in Wales. If a dental contract underperforms by over 5% the health board is required in legislation to recover the under-delivered amount. In many cases the recovered funding is reinvested straight back into alternative NHS dentistry by the health board. Any resource recovered as a result of dental contractual underperformance remains with the health board."

The Welsh Government said money would also go into strengthening specialist children's dentistry and new specialists would work with general dental teams to improve children's preventive care and treatment.

Katina Clarke, Chair of the BDA's Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, said:  "Year in, year out, money allocated to NHS dentistry has been used to balance the Welsh Government's books. While we welcome commitments to spend the dental budget on dentistry, this money represents just a quarter of what's been taken out of the system each year. Creative accounting does not constitute new investment. The best thing the Welsh Government could do is commit to ensure all money set aside for dentistry is actually spent on improving the oral health of children and adults in Wales."

The minister, Vaughan Gething responded: "This will improve access to NHS dental services for people in some of the most deprived areas of Wales. We're also investing in new specialist paediatric dentistry to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable children are met."

A report out earlier this year said the proportion of five-year-olds with tooth decay in Wales had continued to fall. The Public Health Wales dental survey showed those from the most-deprived backgrounds had the biggest reduction over the past decade.

For clawback figures in Wales see: Freedom of Information request: Clawback of underperformance in NHS dental budget by Health Board

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