Incentivising dentists to remain in the NHS
From today, a new fee structure comes into effect for NHS dentistry.
This update will give dentists greater power to consider patients’ specific oral health needs and provide preventative and periodontal treatment.
Our aim with this payment reform is to incentivise dentists to remain in the NHS, and provide longer term sustainability to the dental sector. This is vital to our work to improve access to NHS dental care that we know is particularly challenging in certain communities across the country.
It is clear that there is a desire for modern dentistry to be available across the country
We understand that practices are finding it increasingly difficult to provide NHS care, given the unprecedented cost of living crisis, so we have replaced the existing fees with a new improved set, priced at levels that we believe better reflect the real-life costs of delivering the full range of NHS care and treatment.
Alongside the increased Scottish Government dental budget, these increased fees will help provide medium to longer term security and sustainability for practices that deliver comprehensive NHS dental care.
Examinations remain free for all, with children and young people, pregnant and new mothers, and those on certain benefits still entitled to all care and treatment free.
Furthermore, those on low incomes remain entitled to support with health costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme. Overall, between 40-45% of patients will not pay fees. For all patients, a course of treatment remains capped at £384, or 80% of costs, whichever is lower.
This week sees the start of a campaign to reassure NHS patients that these exemptions still remain for those who need assistance in covering their costs, and where to get information on that.
These payment reforms are the result of long term discussions with the sector and I want to thank all those who worked with us. It is clear that there is a desire for modern dentistry to be available across the country and for a system that allows you to provide the treatments your patients need.
Official statistics show continued improvement in the number of patients being seen and treatments being carried out. This is great news, and it is a tribute to the incredible hard work in practices across the country to come back from the infection prevention and control guidance that was needed to protect staff and patients at the height of the pandemic.
No one should underestimate the effect that had on dental teams and patient care. I know that for many of you it will have been a deeply stressful and uncertain time.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued engagement and commitment to NHS dentistry.
Jenni Minto is the Minister for Public Health.