The launch of an NHS Scotland scheme, Denpro, to help practices save money will go ahead despite concerns from the profession.
Practices who sign up to the Denpro procurement scheme will be given access to an ordering system offering general dental consumables such as instruments, impression materials and cements at a reduced price when it goes live in January.
NHS Scotland hopes that the scheme will bring together up to 400 practices across Scotland and use collaborative buying power to create savings.
‘This is an excellent opportunity for dentists to get greater clout in terms of buying power and drive down the cost of the products they use,’ Paul Cushley, NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) director of dentistry, said.
‘When we consulted on the scheme earlier in the year, it was very popular.
‘We are already assessing the best prices from all the major dental suppliers and would like to have as many NHS practices ready to participate to help our leverage when negotiating with the dental suppliers on behalf of the NHS.’
Concerns over Denpro
The lack of detail regarding the scheme has some dentists raising concerns about its effectiveness, however – while many other dentists claim to be unaware of Denpro at all.
Executive director of the British Dental Industry Association (BDIA), Tony Reed, cautioned: ‘There is an undoubted need for effective public procurement and efficiency in the NHS supply process.
‘However it is important to maintain clinical freedom for dental professionals.’
Sources close to Dentistry Scotland magazine warned that the scheme could limit the choice available to practices and increase paperwork, while only having a minimal effect on prices.
It is also believed that continued uncertainty about the supplier could prevent the scheme gaining traction in the country.
Speaking exclusively to Dentistry Scotland magazine, Paul Cushley responded saying: ‘Practices will make a substantial saving but the absolute amount offered by the suppliers when we go to market will be dependant on the size of our membership.
‘We have avoided specifics, which we do not have currently, to avoid any disappointment or undue optimism from potential members – transparency is our aim.
‘Our procurement experts have set an upper limit of the number of practices that can participate to avoid a dental company monopoly happening in Scotland.
‘The fact practices have to be 80% or more NHS committed is an inbuilt control of the group size allowing the market to continue outside our membership.
‘The scheme is to help support the provision of NHS dental services as NSS does not have any vested financial interest in NHS practices or the supply chain.
‘The CDO office was keen to get NSS to support the purchasing for the NHS dental practices.
‘This club set up by NSS allows economy of scale and buying power from dentists rather than allowing them to be subject to market forces and the vagaries of the dental suppliers pricing and profit.
‘NSS wont save any money through the process NHS practices will save money and this will indirectly help support the provision of NHS dental services in practices who provide care in the most disadvantaged communities in Scotland.’