The British Dental Association (BDA) has advised practices to carefully consider their financial position before bidding for NHS orthodontic contracts.
The warnings come after the BDA started legal proceedings against NHS England for the way it had tendered more than £1/2 billion of dental contracts, accusing it of setting up ‘potentially impossible barriers’ for smaller practices.
Despite expressing its concerns, the BDA has been in discussions with NHS England over the contracts with some changes being made, such as the price banding increasing at the lowest level from £51.89 to £54.89, lower than the current average value of £64.
‘This tender feels like a race to the bottom, and providers will have to go through much soul searching before choosing to take part,’ BDA chair of General Dental Practice, Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, said.
‘We are telling our members to speak to their accountants.
‘It is not a message we take any pleasure in delivering, but the fact is that not bidding for tenders may be the better option for many.
‘We do not feel that dedicated health professionals should be asked to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea.
‘And our patients, particularly those in rural areas, should not risk losing their regular orthodontist and driving huge distances to secure access.
‘These savage cuts may well impact on practices, personnel and our patients to an unacceptable extent.
‘It simply won’t be in many providers’ interests to bid when conditions set will mean they take up to a 30% hit in pay.’
The judicial review launched against NHS England remains ongoing but has currently been put on hold.
Despite holding a public consultation, feedback from the 1,600 respondents has not been shared by NHS England.
The BDA is advising providers to consider very carefully the financial impact and the viability of their business model before bidding for the orthodontic contracts, and to take advice from their accountants.