- Published: Monday, 10 January 2022 10:51
- Written by Sam Pointer
- Hits: 848
NHS dental practices were recently told to meet 85% of their pre-COVID UDA activity levels & 90% for UOA activity or face financial penalties. Despite the BDA at the time condemning the decision to impose these targets NHS England (NHSE) have not backed down and the BDA’s concerns seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
The BDA says that these targets are unrealistic especially in the face of the Omicron variant and have raised the difficulties currently being experienced across dentistry with NHSE and Health Minister Maria Caulfield.
They expressed their significant anger and disappointment at the decision by NHSE to proceed with these new targets and conveyed their genuine anxiety about the impact these new targets may have on both the short and long-term viability of NHS dentistry.
The spread of the Omicron variant has resulted in a huge rise in dental staff absence due to sickness or isolation while patients continue to cancel in droves and at short notice. In addition, insisting that practices prioritise non-regular patients at the expense of regular attenders also makes the achievement of an 85% UDA threshold extremely difficult.
NHSE had stated an exceptions process will continue to provide an income protection safety net for practices that are unable to deliver at the threshold due to extenuating circumstances. However, as Omicron is now so widespread many practices may now fall within this category.
As a consequence the BDA has requested that NHSE rethink their decision and revert to the 65% threshold for quarter four. They reiterated that due to Omicron the GP targets have been relaxed and hospitals are now suspending some non-urgent surgery and other appointments. Why not apply the same approach to dentistry?
When he also met with NHSE yesterday.General Dental Practice Chair Shawn Charlwood emphasised the detrimental impact on NHS dentistry with the profession feeling overwhelmed and unsupported.
This week the BDA will be sending out a survey to their members to gather feedback on their ability to deliver care based on current circumstances. The responses received will shape any future discussions with NHSE.
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