Report calls on government to provide financial support for dental services

A group of dental associations have joined together and called on government action for mixed and private services.

In a new report, key stakeholders assess the financial support measures currently available to practices.

And following the findings, the British Dental Association (BDA) has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for an ‘urgent response’.

Robust support package

The paper sets out a number of key recommendations, for example:

  • The extension of eligibility for financial support and expansion of eligibility to business rate relief. This is to help manage the financial burdens of resuming provision and restoring the sector
  • Further support through investment in extended commissioning of NHS dental care to address the backlog of patients.

Additionally, it urges for a ‘robust and timely support package’ for the dental sector, asking the government to consider:

  • An extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Eligibility for business rate relief
  • Eligibility for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLGF)
  • Finally, a support package for dental laboratories that assist NHS dental practices.

In a survey conducted between 9 July and 13 July 2020, the report states that 66{380aeddbf14a84cd11c11cd488112056163e30cadda676ce0194921ef8f43b08} of practices operated at or below one quarter of their pre-COVID capacity.

Additionally, 43{380aeddbf14a84cd11c11cd488112056163e30cadda676ce0194921ef8f43b08} were undertaking less private work – with 18{380aeddbf14a84cd11c11cd488112056163e30cadda676ce0194921ef8f43b08} carrying out no private activity at all.

Similarly, 94{380aeddbf14a84cd11c11cd488112056163e30cadda676ce0194921ef8f43b08} of respondents said fallow time had a ‘great impact’ or ‘considerable impact’ on their practice.

Inequalities widening

‘Patient access to dentistry remains limited, and we face a real risk of deep health inequalities widening,’ said BDA chief executive, Martin Woodrow.

‘The measured view of this paper is that a vital healthcare service – now operating at a fraction of its former capacity – requires urgent support.

‘While short-term assistance has been offered to NHS contractors, private providers have largely had to go it alone.

‘From the extension of business rates relief to ensuring necessary funding is in place to support services for vulnerable populations, the Treasury has a responsibility to take heed, and set out a clear plan to keep dentistry afloat.’

Unique challenges

He added: ‘Since the onset of the pandemic we – and many MPs – have received mere boilerplate responses from the Treasury regarding support for dentistry.

‘But we’ve yet to see any real awareness of the unique challenges facing this service. We hope that this report will address this gap in understanding.’

The associations and groups involved include:

  • British Association of Private Dentistry
  • Association of Dental Groups
  • British Dental Association
  • British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy.

You can read the full report here.

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