NHS Dental Contract Reforms: Who, what and when?

More than 3 years of deliberating, retracting a testing and we are still nowhere near seeing a conclusive policy. You would be forgiven for thinking we are talking about Brexit. Instead we are discussing a major NHS reform that is still yet to be decided amid an upcoming 2020 implementation date.

NHS Dental Contract reforms have been part of the Conservative manifesto since 2016 and after numerous pilot studies it seems no end is in sight for the final version.

Increased waiting times, reduced availability

The contract introduces a requirement for practitioners to carry out a full oral health assessment for their patients. At present this takes over 20 minutes. While this will only apply for patients at the start of the contract and then after reasonable intervals, it indeed creates a problem of increased waiting times and reduced availability.

True self-employment?

As most in the dental profession will admit, the goal of most dental practitioners is to work on a self-employed basis having the freedom to choose when and where to work.

With a system that is built on capitation and activity remunerations, this takes away the control self-employed dental practitioners will be entitled to in respect of running their practices how they see fit.

Time-limited contracts

In 2015 the Treasury released a report that suggested practices would have to re-tender contracts every 5 years.

This policy was introduced to be in line with EU regulations. Following the United Kingdom’s plans to leave the EU, this policy could still be removed in the final UK policy.

The truth is, even those in the dental industry are not sure what the new changes will be or what they will even mean. A source told us that:

They have been running new pilot schemes since I was in University, we are still unsure what the final outcome will be and if it will even happen by April 2020


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