Practice allowance ‘increased by 30 per cent’
The General Dental Practice Allowance (GDPA) has been increased by 30 per cent, the Scottish Government said today. It also confirmed the move to phase three of remobilising NHS dental services, with practices able to open from this Monday (13 July) for routine non-aerosol care.
Tom Ferris, the Chief Dental Officer, said in a letter to NHS practices: “We are maintaining the NHS financial support measures for phase two, but have enhanced the package to help with the additional costs of running a practice.
“We have therefore decided to increase the GDPA by 30 per cent, with these arrangements to be reviewed on a quarterly basis. The GDPA cap will also increase to ensure those practices affected by the cap benefit from this additional funding.
“In summary, the NHS financial support measures for phase two and now phase three amount to an additional £2.75m of funding per month. This is in addition to the full deployment of the General Dental Services budget and is equivalent to 90 per cent of total NHS income, including NHS patient charges.”
A memorandum on phase three of the remobilisation of dental services was published by the Government and the CDO said that a revised Statement of Dental Remuneration would be published on Monday.
A spokesperson for the British Dental Association commented: “While this funding is welcome, it is insufficient to restore practice income to pre-COVID levels and could see some practices struggle to remain viable. We want to see additional funding offered, given the financial pressures facing mixed NHS-private practices with a high percentage of private income.”
In his letter, the CDO also spoke about the pace of practices opening after the ‘indicative’ date of 13 July was announced last month.
“There is no expectation that all practices should be seeing routine patients from this date, but some will want to start as soon as possible,” he said. “Inevitably with over a thousand dental practices in Scotland it is very difficult to meet everyone’s expectations around the pace of the phased recovery for NHS dental services.
“What we have tried to do is to ensure for those practices that are ready they have the opportunity to move forward. For those of you who want to take things more slowly, that is acceptable. As I noted in an earlier letter my one stipulation is that I expect all practices to be open and operating under phase two, as a minimum, by 31 July.”
David McColl, Chair of the Scottish Dental Practice Committee, commented: “The Scottish Government has a responsibility to manage patient expectations. Yes, we are moving to the next phase of reopening, but very little will change in terms of the treatments we can offer to our patients.
“Routine dentistry has not returned, and this fact needs to be clearly communicated. Dentists now face a vast backlog of dental treatment, and it will be some time before we return to anything resembling ‘business as usual’.
“Ministers now need to provide appropriate financial support to ensure the sustainability of NHS dentistry. We need the Government to engage more regularly and effectively with the profession and the public as we continue to navigate our way through these difficult times.”