Scotland’s CDO challenged over ‘lack of engagement’ with profession

16 July, 2020 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

Scotland’s Chief Dental Officer (CDO), Tom Ferris, has been accused by the British Dental Association (BDA) of a “lack of engagement” with the profession.

In a letter to the CDO today, David McColl, chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee (SDPC), says that “repeatedly sending important
documents which are either a ‘done deal’ or with very little time to consider and discuss does not represent meaningful engagement or negotiation”.

McColl adds: “Both myself and the SDPC vice-chair have received sustained vitriolic abuse on the Scottish Dental Practice Owners online platform as we have been personally accused of failing to negotiate effectively with the
Scottish Government.

“We have tried to engage constructively and effectively with the Scottish Government, but our professional integrity – and that of SDPC and the BDA – has been openly and repeatedly questioned by others in the profession due to the lack of engagement. This situation is highly stressful and clearly untenable.”

McColl cites a conference call with the SDPC on 25 June, the day after the ‘indicative’ date of 13 July for a return to practice was announced, in which the CDO indicated that he was in discussion with the Scottish Government about securing additional financial support through the General Dental Practice Allowance.

“However, no figure was mentioned until last Wednesday (8 July), therefore there was no opportunity for [the] SDPC to discuss what the 30 per cent increase – and 30 per cent elevation of the GDPA cap would mean in practice,” he says.

“An early indication of the proposed increase would have allowed members to comment on whether this was sufficient to restore NHS income to pre-Covid levels and help maintain the viability of practices. The committee’s view is that a 60 per cent increase to GDPA and the cap is required.

“We note that GMPs [general medical practitioners] are receiving 100 per cent of funding, and that NHS England recently announced that from 8 June onwards – when practices in England began providing face-to-face care again , 100 per cent of contract value will be paid, with no abatement.”

McColl also says that the committee had only been given a draft outlining more details of the move to phase three of remobilising dental services, the evening before they were made public. A copy of the new Statement of Dental Remuneration (SDR) – which included “elements that potentially jeopardise patient safety”, according to the SDPC – was also supplied at short notice, he adds.

“[The] SDPC and the wider BDA are keen to contribute positively and constructively as dentistry continues its phased return to practice. We therefore urge you to ensure that, in the future, you allow SDPC sufficient time to consider any proposals fully to allow an informed discussion and to give SDPC its place as the formal negotiating body on behalf of GDPs,” writes McColl.

“We continue to urge you to communicate regularly and clearly with the profession to ensure they are up to date with developments. There is considerable uncertainty and anxiety around the phased return to dentistry, and colleagues are calling for transparency regarding financial support and guidance.”

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