Dental Alert - NHS England confirms abatement figure and sets out key NHS contractual issues

Richard Keeler

NHS England published a letter setting out key NHS contractual issues going back to the period of lockdown and those since 8 June for dental practices.

The letter, which can be viewed in full here, states that the abatement to be applied to most contracts from 1 April up until 8 June will be 16.75%. This figure is based on an assessment of variable costs that will not have been incurred when practices were closed (such as laboratory costs and materials).

For practices that have operated as urgent care centres during that period, there will be no abatement for the time they have been providing urgent care.

For the period from 8th June onwards, when practices have begun to provide face-to-face care again, 100% of contract value will be paid, with no abatement. This recognises the additional costs of providing care during the current period, again for example in terms of PPE.

Practices will not be measured on the delivery of Units of Dental Activity during this period.

Practices will need to deliver at least 20% of usual volumes of patient care activity to receive their full contract value. Importantly, the BDA have agreed with NHS England that the definition of patient care activity includes all clinical contact that dentists or dental care professionals have with patients either face to face, by telephone or video consultation counted by the BSA via completed courses of treatment or via the COVID-19 triage portal.

The period to be assessed will be all clinical contact that dentists or dental care professionals have with patients either face to face, by telephone or video consultation from 20 July to 16 September 2020.  This will be compared to the number of courses of treatment only, provided by the contractor in the equivalent period in 2019. Remote advice and care is included in the calculation for 2020 but not for the equivalent period in 2019. If practices are unable to meet the 20% threshold, then they will be required to revert to payment based on UDAs. 

This above arrangement is temporary and the BDA is working with NHS England to establish a revised mechanism for the later part of this financial year as activity gradually increases.

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