COVID financial support measures in place to March 2022, but SDR ‘looms’

13 October, 2021 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

[Editor’s note: An earlier headline – ‘Return to SDR as COVID financial support measures end’ – has been amended to reflect an update – see below – following initial publication of this post.]

The Scottish Government is preparing to end its COVID financial support measures for the general dental service and return to the Statement of Dental Remuneration (SDR), members of Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Local Dental Committee (LDC) have been told.

In an update, the LDC said: “[The] Scottish Government are concerned that a minority of practices are providing a low level of NHS activity and offering treatment on a private basis whilst taking covid support payments. This situation is of course an untenable use of public funding, yet instead of signalling an intention to cease funding to these practices, Scottish Government wish to return the entire GDS to a funding model based on the SDR with the cessation of covid support payments.

“In our view, Scottish Government have not been proactive enough in recognising all of the activity within primary care GDS and still focus on measurement of activity based on an outdated SDR. It is our view that they need to work harder to understand and measure all activity in an accurate manner. The CDO has stated on many occasions that the SDR is unfit for purpose. It is both SDPC and the LDC’s view that a model of care under the SDR at the present time makes NHS GDS non-viable and unsustainable.”

It is thought that the change may come into effect from 1 December. Meanwhile, the LDC points out that neither the proposed ‘new model of care’ or the promised ‘interim model of care’ is any further forward. “No meaningful consultation has taken place over the past 16 months,” it said in its update. “This is despite many years of OHIP [Oral Health Improvement Plan] prior to COVID with very few of its stated objectives achieved.

It added: “This is despite promised ‘conversations with the profession’ during the 19 months of the pandemic so far, which have yet to take place. It is our view that CDO [Chief Dental Officer] and SG [Scottish Government] failed to capitalise on the opportunity provided by [the] COVID FSM [financial support measures] to trial models of care.

“It is the position of [the] Local Dental Committee that continuing with the SDR fee-per-item model would be fundamentally dangerous for patients and dental team members. Patients deserve better. Dental teams deserve better.”

14 October update: The LDC has issued an update: “We can now advise that Scottish Government have confirmed that Covid FSM payments will remain in place until March 2022. 

“We do not yet know whether activity measurement will have some part to play. However, the prospect of SG introducing tiered support payments dependent on % Item of Service still looms. We will continue to make the case that this approach disadvantages children and takes little stock of the additional non-clinical activity that takes place compared to pre-pandemic times.

“Unfortunately we have still not had any news of interim or longterm models of care. We continue to ask for meaningful dialogue with the profession from SG and the CDO.”

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