Preparing for demand when the UDA rules change

UDAJulian English discusses what will happen to workflow for labs on 1 October.

Currently dentist contractors have been told to deliver at least 60% of their contracted UDA between April to 30 September 2021.

This will be deemed to be equivalent to 100% of usual contract activity in this period for the mid-year review.

Standard operating procedures, infection control measures, fallow time and so on have all added to the requirements of a typical surgery and effectively rendered it impossible for a practice to deliver 100% of its contractual expectations.

However, practices are required to open throughout their contractual normal surgery hours with reasonable staffing levels for NHS services in place and to work to meet their contractual obligations as fully as possible.

NHS commitment is expected, with clawback initiated for activity below 60% UDA delivery for the period April to September. Practices must also meet a set of conditions for income protection. These include a commitment to prioritise urgent care and use all NHS funding for NHS work.

From 1 October it is expected (but not yet confirmed) that through changes to procedures, practices will be able to deliver 100% of their contracted activity until 31 March 2022. We call that, business as usual.

The expectation in the lab world is that after 1 October when practices return to 100% productivity, delayed and backdated dental procedures requiring a lab-made prosthesis will recommence.

There is an expectation that there will be a lot of this work to catch up on.

Then there is an expectation that the levels of dental decay and treated conditions due to a lack of access through the COVID-19 crisis will be huge. This means there should be a huge influx of lab work.

D-day for labs

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the dental laboratory industry. These have been tough, unpredictable times for many. It has been difficult to predict how this period affects demand.

But it seems obvious that when NHS practices get back to normal, lab work will get back to normal levels.

But for the initial spike, you need to be ready.

Can you handle additional capacity without burning out?

How can you adjust your catalogue of services to take advantage?

A quite unexpected consequence of the pandemic has been a renewed interest in cosmetic dentistry and lifelike aesthetics. Many people labelled this sudden desire for cosmetic dentistry as the ‘Zoom Boom’. This is because it began with lots of patients seeing themselves on video calls. They noticed aspects of their smiles that they wanted to change.

This should have been felt by now through laboratories being busier with private work.

Please start preparing now for a big boom starting in September and the workflow unmanageable from October.

This article was first written for Laboratory magazine. Read the latest issue of Laboratory magazine here.

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