Another good day to bury bad news?

One advantage to the government of the plethora of public holidays is that many people don’t have enough time to watch what’s going on. I am reminded of the words of Jo Moore who sent an email whilst the Twin Towers were alight on Sept 11th 2001, saying that it was a good day to “bury” bad news. Whilst Ms Moore lost her job, her legacy being the phrase becoming enshrined in the public’s memory, the cynical way that “Special Advisers” behave has not changed in a decade.

Today’s announcement of an effective pay cut (think CQC fees, the investment needed to make practices comply with the evidence free HTM 01-05 and a host of other extra expenses imposed during the past year) dropped into the pool during a week when most practices are going full tilt to keep up with the run of short working weeks has been chosen to be as concealed as is possible.

At least in private practice there is the opportunity to increase fees to accommodate new expenses, such luxury is not possible for those dentists who have taken the Queen’s shilling and are just gearing up for another year (the seventh, any sign of a serious itch?) of targets and “never mind the quality just attain the width”. How much longer will this farce continue?

Here’s how the BDA have viewed it.

‘Uplift’ is really a pay cut, warns BDA

The Department of Health’s announcement today of just a 0.5 per cent increase in contract values for general dental practitioners in England for 2011/12 is a pay cut that will negatively affect their ability to invest in patient care, the British Dental Association (BDA) has warned. The BDA demonstrated in its evidence to the Department of Health that expenses in dental practice are increasing sharply, but that warning has been disregarded, the BDA has said.

Dentists are also being asked to implement new best practice guidance for preventing oral disease in children in support of the Government’s aim of reducing levels of oral disease in younger patients. Where it is considered appropriate, parents will be offered the opportunity for their children to have fluoride varnish applied to their teeth.

John Milne, Chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee, said:

“The level of this uplift is simply not enough. Dentists across England are working really hard, through a period of uncertainty, to deliver high quality care to their patients. They are contending with a growing mountain of pointless bureaucracy and escalating costs on top of the effects of the efficiency savings imposed last year. They need help to address those problems.

“While we support this prevention-focused activity to improve young people’s oral health, the costs of providing the extra fluoride varnish to children have not been recognised by this uplift. The NHS rightly seeks to improve the quality of dental services and to increase the emphasis on disease prevention, but this cannot be done in an environment where not only are dentists incomes frozen, but the continued failure to reimburse expenses puts practices under severe financial pressure.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

The British Dental Association (BDA) is the professional association for dentists in the UK. It represents 23,000 dentists working in general practice, in community and hospital settings, in academia and research, and in the armed forces. It also includes dental students.
For further information, please contact the BDA’s media team on 0207 563 4145/46 or visit http://www.bda.org.

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