The South East region has received a number of concerns from associates and dental team members about payment during the Covid-19 epidemic. This is to set out the national position in relation to this matter.
On 25th March NHS England and Improvement (NHSE) wrote to advise that all non-urgent dental care was to stop. All dental practices had to establish a remote urgent care service limited to triage advice, analgesia and anti-microbials as appropriate (AAA) and make a referral where absolutely necessary to urgent care hubs that were to be established by NHSE/I. Most of the hubs planned for mobilisation in April are now open and practices have been approached about helping to provide the workforce to deliver those services.
The letter of 25th March also covers 2020-21 contracts: cashflow and reconciliation. This section of the letter confirms that the approach will aim to achieve the following:
- Maintain cashflow to provide immediate stability and certainty for dental practices
- Protect the availability of staff to provide essential services during the response period to Covid-19
- Enable staff time that is no longer required for routine dental activity to be diverted to support service areas with additional activity pressures due to Covid-19
- Maintain business stability to allow a rapid return to pre-incident activity levels and service model once the temporary changes cease
- Fair recompense for practices for costs incurred
A further letter dated 15th April provided clarification to for practices that offer a mix of NHS and private care and confirmed that the letter of 25th March applied to NHS income only.
As part of contract value and reconciliation, dental providers are required to ensure that all staff including associates, non-clinical staff and others continue to get paid at previous NHS income levels and this will enable them to either participate in AAA provision for their own practice (please note that while reception and/or nursing staff may answer initial calls, the AAA must be given by a dentist), work in or support urgent dental care hubs (anticipated to be a day on followed by 2 days off) or support the wider NHS or social care community. A fair reduction for any variable costs associated with service delivery will be applied to all contract values which is still subject to national review and negotiation. This is not linked to the proposed abatement due to reduced variable costs, which covers items such as consumables not staff.
This is to confirm the requirement is for the national guidance to be implemented in relation to NHS associate and staff pay. It is vital that members of the dental team are paid their NHS associate payments or salary so they can make themselves available to support AAA carried out in practice, in the urgent care hubs or the wider NHS and social care community. The mechanisms put in place via the NHSE/I letters of 25th March and 15th April 2020 enable practices to maintain their commitment to NHS services during this difficult time; providers in turn need to ensure their staff are correctly remunerated for their NHS commitment so that those that are not required to deliver AAA within their own practice can carry out alternate roles.
Please ensure that all your associates and staff are aware that they will continue to receive their NHS payment/salary. When doing so please ask those that have not yet responded to the South East Dental Workforce Survey to do so using the link below:
Alternatively if they do not wish to support service delivery in the urgent dental care hubs they may prefer to support the wider NHS signing up to the link below:
The Dental Team thank you for your ongoing support in providing remote urgent care via AAA to your patients during this challenging time.