Today's latest news digest

Today’s latest news digest

Three news stories breaking in dentistry today. 

The news desk has been informed that HMRC have finally decided on the status of associates. As a result of their investigations into whether associates can be termed employees or not, HMRC have come to the conclusion that indeed most associates, and particularly those on the NHS, are not able to show they have the independence of working conditions that protects a self-employed status. HMRC are expected to begin to implement reclamation of what they consider is unpaid tax and NI from the employers of associates, and are expected to back date this for six years as is their legal ability to do so.

First Published 1st April 2019

The news desk has been informed that HMRC have finally decided on the status of associates. As a result of their investigations into whether associates can be termed employees or not, HMRC have come to the conclusion that indeed most associates, and particularly those on the NHS, are not able to show they have the independence of working conditions that protects a self-employed status. HMRC are expected to begin to implement reclamation of what they consider is unpaid tax and NI from the employers of associates, and are expected to back date this for six years as is their legal ability to do so.

However, in a new spirit of co-operation between government departments, a spokesperson for HMRC confirmed that they would be seeking to reclaim the back-tax owed from the NHS contracts of the providers of the contracts related to the associates. It is expected that Capita, under the guise of the BSA, will be tasked with collecting the overpayments via direct attachments to the contract values of NHS practitioners. It has not been confirmed how private practices will have this mechanism applied. Whilst HMRC have decided that the system will change immediately, it is expected that it will take Capita approximately 11 years to implement the changes to the software needed to begin the collection of these taxes, but the amounts will continue to accrue up until collection, with interest added at HMRC’s normal late payment rate.

How this affects the viability of dental practices in the future is yet to be seen; however it is expected that such a change to the working patterns of the industry will have a dramatic effect on the morale of the workforce. Some industry commentators have estimated that the initial cost to a 1 principal -3 associate practice could be in the region of £120,000 in the first year (assuming £90k incomes for the associates) although this is mitigated by the fact that Capita have admitted they will take so long to set up the systems and collect the money that dentists will have plenty of time to put plans in place to fund these changes.


This also comes at the time of an announcement by the University of Central Nauru’s Dental School that from 2020 it would be offering a distance learning Postgraduate Degree in Advanced restorative and cosmetic dentistry, based on accessing teaching through Facebook and other social media channels. When asked for more details on this surprising and revolutionary new project, the head of the Dental Department of the University, Pastor U’cheypon Del Eftanside, he said:

‘This generation rules the nation. We have been watching the advent of social media intently and realise that the younger generation of students are more likely to absorb the teachings of Facebook Gurus and the Twitterati than traditional texts and time served teachers. We will be using social media channels therefore to allow students to post their cases for assessment and marking by our tutors, which will allow us to run the worlds first 24-7 educational facility but without the overheads normally associated with a clinical environment. We have also ditched the normal idea of marking, and students will instead be expected to get ‘likes’ from their fellow students as well as the tutors. We already have our tutors for the course, and are happy that they will be well accepted by the students, as their average age is 25. All of them have done some Cosmetic Orthodontics, but we are still looking for a tutor who has completed a root canal therapy and an extraction.’

When asked if this average age was a little low, and the lack of endodontic experience possibly pointing to a lack in the overall clinical experience of the tutors, Pastor U’cheypon remarked that as far as he was concerned there was no need for a time served apprenticeship anymore, ‘As long as you had good clinical pictures of your successes, wear black gloves, and know one end of your hashtag from your aligner’.

He went on to explain that the University was expecting to be inundated with people wishing to apply for the course, and had already set up its ‘safe places’ (run by a company known as ‘U-Ok Hun’) for those students traumatised by not receiving the required 100 likes for a composite that took 15 hours to complete on your mum. When asked about the entry requirements, the Pastor said ‘We’re just asking for a picture of your latest holiday, preferably including a nice watch and a fast car. It doesn’t even have to be your own, it can be your mum and dad’s. Our tutors will then decide on the suitability of the candidates based on this information, as they will probably become the next cohort of tutors as the course expands’. When asked about the whether the GDC would approve the course in some way he was of the opinion that there wouldn’t be a problem, adding ‘we can always get them to do a ‘cardiff’ at a later date if there’s a problem at first’.


That leads us nicely onto the GDC. The latest update to the GDC’s ‘Moving Upstream’ document comes out today. As before, it is published in 2 parts, one being the main document, and the other the data set used as evidence for the ideas within, and is said to have an ‘apt and highly motivational’ title. Once again it sets out how the GDC is going to change the face of dentistry for the better, and make dentists far less fearful of regulation with its new approach. It has come up with some revolutionary ideas to help the profession practice safely, and the one most central to this is the suggestion that all dentists go through the full Fitness to Practice process regularly as part of their new enhanced CPD in order that they understand the process more clearly. A spokesperson said ‘basically, we’re just formalising in a document what we have been doing for the last 6 years anyhow, but thought it looked nice, plus we had loads of extra money spare this year after spending it on buns and doughnuts, some nice sandwiches for the committees, and some logo’d pool tables in the atrium. By the time we have got through all the dentists on the register and struck them off, they obviously wont have anything to fear from us anymore, and our job will be done.’

The spokesperson wasn’t able to add more as apparently he had to catch a flight to the pacific island of Nauru to inspect the dental school there and also attend their own CDP day to study the effect of Lemongrass and Capsaicin tea on the accuracy of FTP charge sheets.

The Document ‘Upshit Creek’ and its supporting ‘Without a Paddle’ is available for download until midday today, so as few people as possible can access it and argue with what is in it.


And finally, today is the first day of the new VAT rules, which were sneaked in under the radar, that sees a 50% vat rate applied to some purchases. The impact of this is unlikely to be seen in dentistry until the next round of dental award ceremonies, given that it only applies to the purchase (or rental) of men’s shiny suits that are slightly too small in the arm and leg. However, dental fashionistas shouldn’t worry too much, as the style gurus Audacious Pia-Jay and Hugh Blow have said that a similar effect could be had by buying a 1970’s nylon suit 2 sizes too small from Oxfam and rubbing it really hard with furniture polish and a scrubbing brush.


Please note: This article was originally published on 1st April 2019.

Image credit - London Matt under CC licence - not modified.

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