Still No Reassurances On ‘Punitive’ NHS Penalties

Still No Reassurances On ‘Punitive’ NHS Penalties

Health and Social Care Minister Jo Churchill has reiterated the Government’s support to NHS practices during the pandemic, but has again failed to address concerns about ‘punitive’ financial penalties for failing to hit targets.

Taking Health and Social Care questions in the Commons, she said “We are committed to supporting all NHS dental services through the pandemic. NHS practices received full funding for the first three quarters of the year, minus agreed deductions in England.”

“NHS dental contractors will continue to be supported whilst meeting reduced activity targets.  NHSE and PHE continued to communicate regular updates enabling practitioners to prioritise the urgent care and reduce waiting times in what are challenging circumstances.”

MP for Falkirk John McNally asked the Minister  if the Government would be taking a ‘more realistic approach to service recovery.’

He said “The British Dental Association have raised concerns that punitive financial penalties for not meeting the government’s unrealistic activity targets are pushing NHS dentists in England to prioritise quick checkups rather than catching up on the backlog of more time-consuming, symptomatic cases.  Therefore, will the Minister consider a more realistic approach to service recovery and commit to reforming the dental contract in England to promote preventative dental care in the future.”

In reply, Ms Churchill said “As anybody will know, I have been heavily engaged with the dental profession over recent months because I agree, a preventative approach to dentistry is certainly one that we need to be moving towards.”

“The activity target is expected to increase availability for patients who are the important part of the equation, so it is important we support the profession but enable patients to have access and reduce waiting times for backlogs. It is based on careful modelling on data and takes into account guidance on infection control and social distancing measures.”

“We recognise there may be exceptional circumstances and that is why there are exceptions to the target level. NHS commissioners have the discretion to deal with exceptions and support dental practises.”

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