NHS England Launch Dentist Recruitment Scheme

NHS England Launch Dentist Recruitment Scheme

One of the promised features of the dental recovery plan was to introduce ‘golden hellos’ for dentists willing to fill some of the most problematic gaps in NHS coverage. Guidance has now been issued that gives some detail about how this will work. Up to 240 dentists will be offered a payment of £20000 to work in under served areas for three years.

As with all NHS offers, the guidance repays careful reading. NHS England » Dental recruitment incentive scheme 2024/25

The document explains that no funding is provided toward recruitment costs or earnings of the associate, with the incentive payment as an additional bonus payment, separate to the associate’s earnings. In contrast to the press release referring to a payment of £20,000 to work for “up to three years”, dentists recruited through the scheme are required to commit to remain working in the same area for a minimum of 3 years. To ensure this the payment is made over the three years, £10,000 at the start of year one and £5000 at the beginning of years two and three.

There is also a UDA threshold to receive the payments, on a sliding scale based upon the dentist’s experience. Those with 3 or more years UK experience will be expected to deliver 6000 UDA’s a year.

Applications are by ICB invitation. Successful practices are expected to recruit their dentist within 6 months. To be eligible to apply to participate practices will need to demonstrate that they have actively undertaken recruitment for a dentist (offering competitive terms of employment and payment) without success.

Dentists participating in the scheme are required to spend the majority of their total working hours at the practice in this post and delivering NHS care. If the dentist being recruited is already working in the same area as the recruiting practice, the dentist and practice will need to demonstrate how recruitment to the new post will increase NHS activity in the area.

Practices participating in the scheme should be able to demonstrate an increase in the total amount of NHS activity. This would appear to limit eligibility for those practices struggling to replace an outgoing associate.

In its own version of clawback, those leaving the scheme early will be expected to make a repayment. For example, leaving the scheme at month 14 would require the dentist to make a repayment of £7,200 from the £15,000 received.

While the press release states that the recovery plan as a whole ‘could see up to 1.5 million additional NHS dental treatments” over its first 12 months, the contribution that this particular scheme will make is somewhat less impressive. Like the new patient premium it may simply provide a modest number of extra appointments in some locations at the expense of lost ones elsewhere. The £4.8 million that would be spent if all 240 awards are made represents little more than 1% of the estimated clawback last year.

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