Letters to Dentistry Online – are NHS dentists busy or not?
Opinion on whether NHS dentistry should return is mixed. Dentistry Online is receiving numerous correspondence on the matter. Here is one such letter from an anonymous dentist.
As a private dentist with no NHS or even capitation commitment, my colleagues and I have been working at close to normal capacity of work since 1 July 2020 when we were allowed to return to work by the Welsh government.
We do so safely with no COVID, as yet, affecting our staff. The HIW (Welsh equivalent of the CQC) has recently reviewed and deemed safe our protocols.
We are currently very busy (and stressed) because NHS dentists are unable to treat their own patients.
Worse, we hear some NHS contracted dentists are refusing to treat NHS patients, but still continue to treat privately (or even convert NHS to private). If true, that is immoral and unprofessional.
My colleagues and I received no furlough for ourselves, no self-employed subsidy and little by way of loans or relief at any point during this pandemic.
Most NHS dentists are self-employed businesses who, unlike my own, have received massive tax payer subsidy by way of their UDA payments ongoing despite minimal working.
I know many are working hard to look after emergencies and claim to be working ‘flat out’. Yet they complain when the government scales the UDA fee ‘furlough’ back.
They claim they cannot work with this lesser subsidy (I deliberately call it that, as UDA payment without work output is simply that) because of patient non-attendance.
I do not understand – are they busy or are they not?
They have all had opportunity for vaccinations (largely offered before private dental teams). And we have all had to invest in equipment and PPE.
Do they not realise colleagues who have to work, are working. As such it makes a mockery of their claim of unfairness?
This favouritism by government(s) towards NHS self-employed contractors is essentially unfair. It is driving a wedge through the profession.
The government should either, in my opinion, employ dentists or respect the self-employed business status.
If the latter, any financial support or subsidy (including the offer to buy COVID safety equipment) should be across the board. Few dentists in Wales, for example, can even get an NHS list. Those relying on capitation income and yet not working (but expecting patients to continue with monthly payments) are being unfair and non-contractual.
The government by its actions are, therefore, being positively discriminatory.
If only we could all be so well supported and grateful for all that has been given. Rather than petulant when the government takes some of it away.
Dr B (Wales)
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