Dental Services: Finance

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 13th December 2018.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions his Department has had with representatives from the dental industry on reforming the Units of Dental Activity system of funding.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of updating the units of dental activity rates used in dentistry.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the effect of the units of dental activity funding system in dentistry on the provision of dental care for families in deprived communities.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Government is committed to reforming the current primary care dental contract to better support dentists to deliver care with a strong preventative focus, as well treating active disease. Over 70 high street dental practices are currently testing a new system where dentists follow a preventative focussed clinical pathway and are remunerated through a mix of capitation and a reformed system of units of dental activity (UDAs).

Practices are testing two remuneration blends, one of which is over 50% capitation and one which is over 80% capitation. The introduction of capitation and the modification of UDAs is designed to ensure dentists are both incentivised through capitation to provide ongoing care for patients and prevent future disease whist providing any necessary treatment through the modified UDAs. Subject to evaluation this will replace the current 100% activity system.

The dental profession is closely engaged in the work to reform the National Health Service dental contract, there are regular discussions with the British Dental Association (BDA) which is also a member of the National Steering Group for contract reform. Alongside this there are discussions with the practices engaged in the current testing, periodic meetings with Local Dental Networks and other groups such as the Association of Dental Groups.

The Department has made no specific assessment of any impact on the take up of dental care in deprived communities on the introduction of the current UDA system in 2006. NHS England is responsible for commissioning NHS dental services to meet local assessed needs and patient access to NHS dental services remains high. Improving oral health particularly for deprived children is also a priority for the Department. Alongside contract reform, which will incentivise dentists to spend more time preventing dental disease, NHS England’s Starting Well programme is aiming to reach families with young children who are not already under the care of a dentist.

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