The Dental 'Recovery' Plan: What does it Actually Mean?

At the beginning of February, the Government announced its Dental Recovery Plan in a bid to address the NHS dental access crisis (amid an election year!), but what's in the plan and what does it actually mean...

What's in the Plan?

  • A New patient premium - if you are seeing a new patient who hasn't accessed dental care in the past 2 years you will get a premium of £15 on top of your band 1 payment, or an additional £50 on top of your band 2 or 3 fee
  • Golden hellos of £20,000 for dentists to work in identified areas where access is poor
  • A new mobile dental van service for rural and coastal communities
  • An uplift in UDA value for some - the minimum UDA value is now set at £28
  • Plans to ringfence the dental budget i.e. if there is clawback, this money is reused for dentistry in other ways
  • Smile for Life initiatives in schools to promote good oral health at early ages
  • A greater use of skillmix with increased use of dental therapists and other DCPs in providing care
  • Roll out a national water fluoridation programme

What's NOT in the Plan?

The plan has lacked a lot of fine detail and it seems like as time goes on, elements of the plan will be more well defined and this is now all on the timeline of a July 4th election. So there is a risk with a new government which may be elected in the Summer, that the plan may be scrapped/adapted/repurposed. 

But so far, here's some of the details not quite so obvious initially in the plan.

1. The new patient premium - this is reliant on providers passing the patient premium to their performers, and also isn't any additional UDA allowance - therefore technically practices will make up their UDA target faster. So some practices might have a risk of 'running out' of UDAs before their financial year is up. This could be good for those practices who previously found it difficult to hit their UDA targets. There is also the question about how do you assess whether a patient hasn't seen a dentist in 2 years... is that an NHS practice, does that exclude out of hours services, how will that be verified? 

2. The Golden Hellos - this will be limited to the first 240 dentists who apply and will be staggered over 3 years. So in year 2 and 3 this amounts to an extra £5000 a year - when you consider the costs of moving this isn't a lot! And it also is just moving a recruitment crisis from one area of the country to another...

3. Mobile dental vans - there is currently a market engagement exercise ongoing about this that will confirm what the offering for this would be, but 13 coastal/rural ICBs of dental need have been identified and commissioners are already calling for options of 'non-van' solutions as there really aren't that many mobile dental units about...

4. Minimum UDA value - this only affects 700 of the 8000 practices that hold an NHS dental contract

The whole of the dental profession is eagerly awaiting the finer details of the plan, but from what is being heard we don't think that what has been announced is good enough. While change is welcome, the real call from the profession is to abolish the UDA and we've been calling for this pretty much as long as it has been in existence!

So what do you think of the Government's NHS Dental Recovery Plan. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. 


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