NHS England announced in a letter on July 19, 2022, the outcome of the 2022/23 Dental Contract Negotiations. The negotiation marks the first significant change to the contract since its introduction in 2006.
Ali Sparke, director for Dentistry, Community Pharmacy and Optometry for NHS England, and chief dental officer Sara Hurley set out a clear package of initial reforms to the NHS dental contract.
The changes come after a year of engagement with stakeholders and the profession, including the British Dental Association.
Changes will be made across six critical areas from 2022 to 2023. These include:
- "Introduce enhanced UDAs to support higher needs patients, recognising the range of different treatment options currently remunerated under Band 2
- "Improve monitoring of, and adherence to, personalised recall intervals.
- "Establish a new minimum indicative UDA value of £23.
- "Address misunderstandings around the use of skill mix in NHS dental care, whilst removing some of the administrative barriers preventing dental care professionals from operating within their full scope of practice.
- "Take steps to maximise access from existing NHS resources, including through funding practices to deliver more activity in year, where affordable.
- "Improve information for patients by requiring more regular updating of the Directory of Services."
NHS England hopes these changes will address the challenges faced by the sector following the Covid-19 pandemic and "tackle longer-standing concerns".
Michael Copeland, regional manager at Wesleyan, the financial services mutual for dentists said, “The current system simply isn't working - it doesn’t pay dentists fairly for their work and makes managing a career as an NHS dentist in England incredibly challenging.
“The modest tinkering announced today isn’t going far enough and serious reform of the contract is now well overdue. Getting this right will help reassure dentists working in the NHS, and those with ambitions to join them, that they have a long-term future providing dental care through the National Health Service. Failure to address it is only going to compound staff shortages and access to NHS treatments.”
The letter concludes with thanks from the NHS to dental teams and practices for their "hard work and commitment in continuing to maintain and deliver high-quality care for patients."
Read the announcement in more detail here