In December 2020, the UK Government set targets for NHS dentists to achieve 45% of their pre-pandemic activity. The aim of this new target was to increase the amount of NHS appointments available for patients. However, these new targets have come under a lot of scrutiny from dentists which is being supported by MPs.

New government targets unrealistic?

The new targets have been called impossible by dentists whilst maintaining social distancing and deep cleaning standards to ensure dental practices are a Covid-secure environment for both patients and staff. The 45% target would drastically increase the footfall at practices and therefore increases the risks around controlling the virus.

 

Dentists prioritise volume over urgent care

Financial penalties may be implemented for those dental practices that fail to reach the target. Therefore, it is extremely likely that dentists will prioritise shorter appointments to reach the target and avoid a financial penalty. As a consequence is it likely that those in need of urgent dental care will be forced to wait longer for treatment.

With the revised targets being set and uncertainty in the profession about what potential clawbacks made be levied on practice owners in the event of a shortfall, the current climate for dental principals remains to be increasingly uncertain.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield has recently encouraged the government to make a U-turn on these new targets because it directs priorities away from patients who need treatment the most.

The third national lockdown has made these targets even more difficult to achieve. With 76% of dental practices surveyed in the Yorkshire and Humber region reporting that there has been a significant increase in patient cancellations and no shows since the lockdown was implemented.

 

Summary

In summary, it seems that the new targets introduced by the government could actually do more harm to patient care, as the focus on volume will mean that dentists prioritise shorter appointments to hit targets and detract away from urgent patient needs. The potential of financial penalties creates further uncertainty in an already difficult sector in the current climate. Both matters are being looked at by the BDA on behalf of its’ members.

 

How can we help?

At Hawsons we have a dedicated team of specialist dental accountants at our offices in Sheffield, Doncaster, and Northampton. Our accountants can offer specialist accountancy and taxation services to dentists and their practices, utilising our in-depth knowledge and experience in the sector.

 

Free initial consultation

Scott Sanderson is a healthcare partner at Hawsons

Scott Sanderson

Partner, Sheffield

0114 266 7141

[email protected]

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