NHS DRP: Dental Bonus Idea was Trialled in Manchester

NHS DRP: Dental Bonus Idea was Trialled in Manchester

With assorted teasers, leaks and now a document sent to the BBC ‘in error,’ it seems that the long overdue dental recovery plan really is on its way.

A key part of this looks to be a “Dental Bonus” scheme aiming to incentivise dentists to see more NHS patients, particularly emergencies and those who were struggling to find appointments. The pilot scheme running in Manchester has been spoken of as a possible model. Dr Mohsan Ahmad Chair of the Greater Manchester LDN, was kind enough to take time from his busy practice schedule to provide GDPUK with some insight into how it is working out.

The objective is to target new patients and patients requiring urgent treatment, who have been struggling to access NHS care. Under the pilot, which began in April 2023, contractors were offered an extra 8-10% on the basic contract value. In return, taking the example of someone with a 6000 UDA contract, each day they would be expected to take on one new patient and one emergency, usually coming via NHS 111. A further requirement was that their accepting patients status indicator on the NHS website, must remain green.

The pilot was funded from the previous year’s clawback money. Of the 360 contractors who were eligible to participate, 160 signed up at the start, and over the year another 12 have joined. The project has been a success in improving access with 80,000 new patients seen and the same number of emergencies. It has not all been plain sailing, with the initial pent up demand when the scheme was announced proving very challenging. Missed appointments running at the 10% mark, have also been a problem.

Goodwill from all of those involved has helped the scheme deliver.  Local dental leaders Dr Ahmad, Stuart Allan, and Don McGrath, have been closely involved and participated in the bi monthly meetings that include contactors and commissioners. There has been support for reception staff around how to deal with the frequent problem of multiple enquiries received after the bonus slots have been filled. The commissioners understand the pressures on practices involved that face high failure rates, they plan to work with teams to support them with achieving their targets.

Asked about contractors satisfaction with the pilot, Dr Ahmad explained that at present there were only 2 of the 172 participants who might not continue into a second year, and that workforce issues were part of the reason. He added that Manchester had a good history of flexible commissioning and any national roll-out would be dependent upon ICB’s not using the cash elsewhere. Early indications from other sources, are that some renovation of the ring fence will also form part of the recovery plan.

Some early reaction on X.com

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