COVID-19 – dental practices must deliver 45% of NHS contracts

Chief dental officer for England Sara Hurley has written to the dental profession about NHS contracts for the final quarterChief dental officer Sara Hurley, has written to the dental profession about arrangements for NHS contracts in the final quarter. 

From 1 January to 31 March 2021, practices delivering 45% of their contracts will be seen to have delivered full contracted volume.

This follows talks with the government to determine a ‘safe and reasonable’ arrangement for the next three months.

Alongside interim director of primary care, Gabi Darby, Sara Hurley also confirms that regardless of tiers, all NHS dental services in England should remain open.

Improved understanding

‘Since dental services reopened in June there have been steady improvements in access, as changes in infection prevention and control guidance, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and processes and procedures become more familiar to dental teams and patients,’ she writes.

‘But it is not yet business as usual. Updates to contractual arrangements set out below for quarter 4 reflect improved understanding of COVID-19’s impact on practice operations and increased access to care to meet patient needs and address backlogs of care.

‘This marks the next step in the restoration of dental services.’

Exceptions to be made

In addition, PPE relating to COVID-19 will be given to dental practices free of charge.

However, there may be circumstances where the target is not deliverable. In these instances, commissioners are able to make exceptions. For example, if staff are required to self-isolate or if shielding comes into force in tier 4 locations.

This can be accessed via the PPE portal.

Dr Hurley adds: ‘From Jan to Mar 2021, an adjustment will be made to the contract value. This will reflect variable costs not incurred by contractors for activity that is not delivered.

‘Contractors will access PPE via the PPE portal and in line with the government’s strategy. This will replace current arrangements, in which the increased PPE costs were largely covered by the practices retaining the payment for variable costs for activity which was not delivered.’

You can read the full letter here.

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