- Published: Friday, 08 September 2023 06:08
- Written by Peter Ingle
- Hits: 2194
It started as the week that Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan asked, “Does anyone ever say: “You know what, you’ve done a ****ing good job, because everyone else has sat on their **** and done nothing’? No signs of that, no?”
Despite her sterling efforts, those dentists retaining an NHS commitment, may remember the week for other reasons. They can still read this on GOV.UK:
However they will not be getting 6%. It has now been confirmed that the vast majority of NHS dentists, that is those working under GDS contracts, will receive a 5.13% fee uplift. After a year of high inflation this will mean a significant further cut in real pay.
GDPC Chair Shawn Charlwood has sent BDA members a blunt message, now that the full uplift details have been confirmed. Headed, “Dentists told to prop up NHS out of own pockets” he begins by stating that ministers are simply wrong when they say that they have honoured review body recommendations.
When the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) recommended a 6% increase in pay that was not the end of the process for working out the actual contract uplift. An allowance is made for practice operating costs to give that overall increase.
At a time of spiralling costs, particularly in health care, the Government has allowed for an increase of only 3.23% in respect of increased practice operating costs. With the formula used, that will give an actual uplift figure of 5.13%.
As Shawn Charlwood says, “This is insulting and clearly bears no relation to the inflationary pressures faced by practices and individual dentists. It is outrageous that the Government has completely undermined the DDRB’s recommendation of a 6% pay rise, as it will now be nearly impossible for practices to pass on the pay increase in full to associates and practice staff, worsening the already dire picture for recruitment and retention.”
He explains, “We presented compelling evidence to Government and argued for a sustainable uplift but that has been ignored. Our assessment of the evidence available on practice operating costs was that an overall contract uplift of 8.3% was required to fully take account of increases in practice costs and allow a 6% pay rise.” The GDPC Chair adds that, “The Government has accepted our argument that its costs figure of 3.23% is not based on evidence of dental inflation, but says it merely reflects what it feels it can afford.”
While the BDA is limited in what it can do, there is clear evidence that it has established a twin track approach.
On the political front Shawn Charlwood is very clear: “We are absolutely appalled by this approach and have made our views clear to the Minister for Dentistry Neil O’Brien. His decision will completely undermine any plan to support NHS dentistry’s recovery. Instead of taking a decision that would ease the NHS dental crisis, this will only deepen it.”
When it comes to practical terms after referring to “difficult decisions,” he observed that the Government is leaving remaining practices offering NHS care, with little choice but to increase their private income to make up for inadequate NHS funding. His email concludes with a link to BDA services to support dentists who wish to alter the balance of NHS and private services that they provide.
While Neil O’Brien patiently waits to be told he has done “a ****ing good job,” so far this week, GDPUK has seen new stories about NHS dental access deteriorating or collapsing in; North Devon, Cornwall, Warrington, and Suffolk. Meanwhile, Leigh has joined the growing group of locations hitting the national press, where desperate patients have begun queuing in the early hours, hoping to get an appointment.
Gillian Keegan image: ITV News
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