Increase in dentist appointments – gov.scot
Easing of restrictions sees thousands more patients seen.
NHS dental exams are expected to have doubled between April and June compared to the first three months of 2022, with around 700,000 exams underway as practices continue to recover from the pandemic.
The sharp increase in appointments follows the relaxation of some infection prevention and control (IPC) measures put in place to protect patients and staff at the height of the pandemic.
Interim payment arrangements have been in place since April to support practices that are seeing more patients while infection, prevention and control measures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic have remained in place.
Writing to the sector today, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf confirms that NHS dentists will continue to receive an additional 30% on fee claims with further review by October.
Mr Yousaf said:
“We have been greatly encouraged by the substantial improvements made by dentists to increase access to NHS dentistry over the past three months. More than 232,000 exam appointments took place in April, compared to a monthly average of 125,000 for the first three months of the year, an increase of 85% in one month.
“We are on track for around 700,000 exam appointments for the three months to the end of June, nearly double those of the first three months of this year. By continuing with these interim arrangements, we are supporting the progress made in tackling the backlog in routine care and ensuring that the sector is able to quickly return to more normal levels of activity.
“There has been tremendous progress in NHS dental services and improvements in oral health – progress that has been halted by the unique challenges of the pandemic. Our ambition is to regain that momentum and ensure that we have an NHS dental service that is unrivaled in the world today.
Chief Dental Officer Tom Ferris said:
“Dental teams faced some truly incredible challenges to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which really reduced the number of patients who could see. It is therefore wonderful to see that so many people have been able to see their dentist.
“Talking to colleagues, I know that the teams are working very hard to welcome patients and provide appointments, opening sooner or later to accommodate the busy lives of patients. We will continue to work with our partners to provide the NHS dentistry sector with the support it needs to recover from the significant challenges it has faced.
The ‘multiplier’ payment was introduced by the Scottish Government to support the continued recovery of the NHS dental sector. It is in addition to the actual value of service item claims to mitigate the cost of PCI measures, declining dental activity levels and budgetary requirements.
The text of the letter to dentists published on June 28, 2022.
We are writing to provide you with details on the immediate next steps of the multiplier and the broader sector engagement program on reform.
Next steps for the multiplier
Since the beginning of April, we have been greatly encouraged to see a significant increase in the volume of examination appointments and levels of care provided closer to pre-pandemic levels. The combination of both a de-escalation of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures and continued additional support through the Interim Multiplier Arrangements has provided a solid foundation for the sector to move forward. .
When examining the multiplier, we looked at a range of factors, including remaining CPI constraints, overall activity levels and affordability. Taking into account these factors and the requirement to maintain the momentum we have achieved in the first three months of the Provisional Multiplier Arrangement, the intention is, from the paid July/August schedule, to set the multiplier at 1.3 – meaning that contractor fee claims will attract an additional 30% on top of actual business. The 30% increase in the general dental practice allowance will also be maintained for this period.
These arrangements will be reviewed prior to the paid October/November schedule, with the intention of writing to the profession in advance.
NHS Dentistry Reform Agenda / Next Steps
We have already suggested that as the recovery agenda develops and patient access to services expands, we will turn to the issue of reform. We are well aware that there is a strong industry appetite for a reform program and we want to meet this expectation with a targeted and inclusive program.