‘Turn off these targets’ – dentist voices fears over NHS targets

A dentist is calling on NHS England to U-turn on its contractual targets in a bid to protect patients and the professionNiloy Karia is calling on NHS England to U-turn on its contractual targets in a bid to protect patients and the profession.

Speaking to Iain Dale on LBC yesterday, Niloy Karia – a dentist based in south east London – called on the government to ‘turn off’ the newly-set targets for NHS dentistry.

Just before Christmas, chief dental officer Sara Hurley announced that from 1 January to 31 March 2021, practices delivering 45% of their contracts will be seen to have delivered full contracted volume.

But Mr Karia argues that the requirement means patients will be brought out of their homes unnecessarily.

Almost impossible

‘What the government said to us 10 days before Christmas was that for January, February and March, we are giving you back your targets to hit,’ he said.

‘They’ve said we have to hit 45% of our monthly target in order to maintain the income that they’re paying us. It’s almost impossible. We’re only probably doing 30% of our targets but [feel like we’re doing] 110% of the work. We have to triage, they [patients] ask COVID-19 questions, it takes time to bring them into the surgery, do all the sanitisation, and get them to fill out all their legal forms.

‘Then we do treatment, we have to deep clean. We’ve gone into tier four before Christmas, we’re now effectively in tier five.

‘They’re almost encouraging dentists on the high street to bring patients out of their homes during this pandemic just so we can hit a target. Doesn’t that sound crazy to you?’

Protect and preserve

He said the move would not just help preserve the future of practices but also protect patients.

‘I just had to mention it – not from a selfish point of view for us and our income. But for the patients who are being asked to come out of their homes,’ he said.

‘They’re shielding, they’re vulnerable – they don’t need routine dental treatment at this moment in time. We should be there to triage, send out prescriptions, give them advice. And get the real emergency patients with broken teeth and abscesses out of trouble.

‘Don’t encourage practitioners to selfishly bring patients out of their doors. Just keep them safe at home until we’re in the right position to call them in.’

He added: ‘Turn off these targets for the next three to four months.’

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