CDO announces new funding for NHS practices
Measures unveiled earlier last month would not have prevented closures, warned practitioners
Additional funding to support hard-pressed NHS practices, whose future are in doubt because of the COVID-19 outbreak, was announced by the Chief Dental Officer, as Scottish Dental went to print.
Earlier last month, Tom Ferris wrote to Scottish NHS GDS-providing dentists, saying that financial support measures had been put into place to help independent contractors during the crisis.
He said that Practitioner Services would determine the average monthly item of service income – net of patient charges for fee paying patients – for the period 2019/20, calculate 90 per cent of this income.
Where that sum was greater than the dentist’s net item of service earnings for a month it would pay the difference between these earnings and the 90 per cent as a top-up in the next available schedule.
However, the announcement – which also covered clinical steps to be taken by dentists – resulted in a flood of emails to the CDO and the GDS mailbox, as well as concern on social media.
Ferris responded the following day saying that it was his priority that “practices do not financially fail”.
He said: “I hear your concerns around practices with a higher level of patient contributions providing income being adversely affected despite this financial support. The measures announced to date are initial measures and we are presently seeking additional funding to support the most affected NHS practices.”
Practitioners who contacted Scottish Dental warned that by not including the patient contribution in its calculation the Government was risking practices across Scotland going out of business.
The CDO did emphasise at the time that, in the interim, practices should seek support from the business initiatives announced by the Scottish and UK Governments and their agencies.
“I want to reassure you that the CDO team is working tirelessly to source additional NHS funding to address these concerns. Additionally, I would ask that you and your professional organisations explore other avenues of COVID-19 support for small businesses,” added Ferris.
A spokesperson for the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Local Dental Committee commented: “We would encourage practice owners to take a breath before making significant decisions about laying off or furloughing employees or making significant cuts to associates.
“The fine detail of how the Government furlough scheme might apply to NHS dentistry is far from clear, especially if the NHS are providing us with bespoke funding packages that may be contingent on having an availability of staff to be redeployed. The CDO has indicated in his letter that further financial support may yet be forthcoming for GDPs.”
On 30 March, the CDO announced: “I have revised the funding package, which will now provide 80 per cent of the average income from item of service and patient contributions.”
This was a “considerable enhancement,” he said, and was in addition to the protection provided by capitation and continuing care payments, GDPA, rent reimbursement, and commitment payments.
Read more: Profession responds to outbreak