asked Her Majesty's Government:
When the seniority top-up fees scheme for NHS dentists began; how much has been subtracted from dentist fees each year to provide funding for it; and what they are proposing to do with the sums received after April 2009 when it is suggested that the scheme be abolished.
Seniority payments were part of the remuneration arrangements introduced in 1990. An interim scheme was included in the 2006 statement of financial entitlements, when remuneration arrangements for general dental practitioners changed from a fee-based system to one based on annual contract values agreed between primary care trusts (PCTs) and dental providers. The interim scheme has run for the three years of the transition to local commissioning. Seniority payments are a direct charge against PCTs' financial allocations for primary dental services. With effect from April 2009, it is proposed there will be no new entrants to the scheme but those dentists already entitled to payments will continue to receive them. There will be no immediate savings as a result, as the change will not affect allocations to PCTs.