The value of a UDA varies significantly from dentist to dentist and although the BDA league table of average UDA values is presented with a caveat regarding its accuracy, it still poses some interesting questions.
Why is the average UDA value in Sheffield West £36 while in Durham and Chester Le Street it’s only £14? If you take into account that in general terms a PDS UDA is worth about 15% to 20% more than its GDS equivalent, the anomalies become even greater. Put simply, why are some dentists being paid four times as much as their colleagues for doing exactly the same work?
Obviously, this pattern will not be allowed to continue and there will be downward pressure on the value of UDAs. In fact this is already happening and it is now common practice when dental monies come back to the PCT for a tendering exercise to take place. Inevitably, PCTs will favour access and the lowest possible bid over prevention and quality of care.
The question that NHS dentists need to ask themselves is how far are they prepared to reduce the value of their UDAs as PCTs seek to harmonise these values at the lowest possible level.
Under the former item of service system, NHS dentistry was considered a treadmill because the fees were so low that financial survival depended on treating a huge number of patients. The New Contract was supposed to change all that.
As pressure increases to reduce UDA values, a new treadmill quickens!
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