Clawback forces practice to reduce NHS service

29 November 2023

A dental clinic in Harrogate has announced it is reducing its NHS provision from 2024 due to financial issues.

A dental clinic in Harrogate has announced it is reducing its NHS provision from 2024 due to financial issues.

Letters were sent to patients by Pannal Dental Clinic (PDC) to inform them of the new arrangements.

The Stray Ferret, a local news outlet, said the letter explained, “As of the 1st January 2024, our team will cease to provide NHS care for adults. Instead, we will be able to provide your dental care on a private basis and to aid this transition, we have introduced a patient membership plan.” 

Petra Turner, a local resident, commented, “A number of Pannal and Burn Bridge residents are now finding that they have to join the PDC dental plan or stay on as a pay-as-you-go (a lot of money) patient in order to stay on their list.”

She added, “We (a family of four) have been with this practice for 22 years. If the three adults in our family were to join the PDC basic plan, we would have to pay £750 a year. This would include two dental check-ups and two hygienist appointments per person. A very nice hourly rate.”

Greg Cadman, the owner and principal, said he “had no choice but to reduce the NHS contract.”

The clinic had failed to meet its target units of dental activity (UDAs), so the local Integrated Care Board claimed back the value of the underachieved units (also known as ‘clawback’). The practice then had to pay out a large sum.

Greg said, “We are not terminating our NHS contract – we are reducing it and prioritising children.

“We lost a couple of associates due to them wanting to work privately, and another went on maternity leave. With staffing levels like that, it became impossible to hit the target.

“There’s no clawback if you fulfil 90 per cent of your UDAs, but we hit 89.7 per cent – just 0.3 per cent off the target – so we were hit with a full clawback of tens of thousands of pounds that had to be paid within just three months.”

He explained that recruitment issues have exacerbated the issue. Greg added, “There always used to be dentists who would take on NHS work, but now many are finding it too difficult under the current system. We’ve advertised for new NHS dentists in numerous places for six months – without a single applicant. Even dental nurses are hard to find.

“There’s definitely still a place for the NHS – it’s really important, and I don’t want to see it go. But for practices like ours, working within it is very difficult.”