The British Dental Association has called for an amnesty on financial clawback against dentists who completed a significant amount – but not the entirety – of their Units of Dental Activity target in 2006-07.
In a letter sent to the chief dental officer for England, Dr Barry Cockcroft, the BDA argued that many NHS dentists are facing unfair financial penalties which may destabilise their practices.
The Association says it is already aware of many NHS dentists facing financial penalties from their NHS primary care trusts, with dentists being asked to pay back substantial sums of money for UDAs not delivered. The BDA has also written to Local Dental Committees across the country to establish more precisely how widespread the problem is.
Lester Ellman, chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, said: ‘It is clear that the UDA system has caused a great deal of anxiety for dental practitioners across England and Wales. The effects of the new General Dental Services contract are not yet fully understood. Until they are it does not seem reasonable to jeopardise a practice’s viability and its services to patients by clawing back what was portrayed as guaranteed funding. This is a serious matter for many highly committed NHS dentists and one which needs to be dealt with sensitively.’
In the letter, Dr Ellman proposes that the amnesty is applied to all NHS dentists who have provided a reasonable level of service. It suggests the threshold could be set at over 80 per cent of the contracted number of UDAs. For those under the threshold, Dr Ellman says, further discussion would be needed which may identify good reasons for lower performance.