The financial stability of dental practices must be protected during the transition to any new contract in England, the British Dental Association (BDA) has stressed.
In a speech to the 2013 Conference of Local Dental Committees, BDA General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC) chair Dr John Milne warned that funding pressures, combined with the legacy of a mismatch between funding and workload bequeathed by the 2006 contract, meant there would be many challenges to face. To navigate through these an income guarantee – akin to that previously provided to general medical practitioners – will be needed to protect practices and their patients, he argued.
Building on his message that the development of a new contract is entering a new phase in which it is increasingly important that dentists start paying detailed attention to developments, he argued that it is now time to start putting flesh on the bones of the new arrangements. When those arrangements are ready the NHS must be honest with both practitioners and patients about what they mean for what care is available, he added.
Reflecting on the recent changes to the NHS architecture, the speech also saw Dr Milne warn that a failure to properly resource the new NHS Local Area Teams (LATs) so that they can fully engage dental expertise could jeopardise their ability to perform their role effectively. Although it was over two months since LATs succeeded primary care trusts, many dentists still did not know who was responsible for managing their contract, he observed.