Since 2006 NHS dentists have been paid according to how many UDAs they undertake, the UDA rate was designed to reflect the activity of each practice during a given period.
However, dentists are successfully challenging the rate of UDA offered to them, NASDAL report, giving the example of Liverpool Primary Care Trust (PCT).
Liverpool PCT sent practitioners a letter with a draft contract stating the contract value on offer, based on a universal UDA rate of £20.33. Unless the dentists signed and returned the contract within the space of a few weeks, they were told they would not be able to practise.
Three dentists, Walters, Petersen and Forsey, resorted to legal action in order to change their UDAs.
Susan Hunneyball from Charles Russell LLP, who took their case to court, said: ‘When they moved onto the new general dental services (GDS) contract, the three dentists felt they did not have the time and flexibility they had enjoyed while on a personal dental services (PDS) contract. As professional, committed dentists, they were not being allowed to do the best for their patients.’
Many of the patients from the Walters, Peterson and Forsey practices were from more deprived sections of the community and, included in their NHS treatment, was access to a hygienist and dental health educator.
Susan continued: ‘Ironically, the initial litigation came about because the PCT issued proceedings to recover money they felt they were owed. This prompted Walters, Petersen and Forsey to make a stand. The trial judge recognised the important principle at stake and ruled in their favour to increase their UDA rate. Dental practitioners are heading towards new NHS contracts again and will need to be vigilant to ensure that new terms do not disadvantage them or their patients.’