Ortho today, where next for the NHS axe? By Zac Fine. April 26, 2017.
The BDA is swinging a punch for the little guys. It’s suing NHS England for setting up “potentially impossible barriers” between smaller ortho contractors in the south of England and half a billion pounds worth of work.
For orthodontic providers everywhere this is good news, although the litigation will no doubt take ages and the BDA might not win. If NHS England really is trying to squeeze the little guys out it’s easy to see a motive: saving money. Presumably it costs less to divide the 10-year NHS orthodontic contracts (worth £56m a year) between fewer providers.
There’s an implied threat to all independent NHS practices, part funded and fully funded. If it’s ortho today, what treatment type will the NHS target tomorrow to drive down costs? Debt-burdened NHS England is always looking to save where it can; trusts in England posted a deficit of £886m at the end of the third quarter in the last financial year, £300m more than the target for April 5.
The BDA claims the tendering process was in breach of regulations by failing to treat providers equally and the new procurement system is weighted heavily in favour of larger dental companies.
NHS England has already agreed to the BDA’s calls to extend the registration period. It wants providers to create consortia and submit bids via those but the BDA says some present providers won’t be able to meet the eligibility criteria despite being high quality.
It also contends that NHS England has acted unlawfully by failing to engage with patients or provide a robust needs assessment on changes that will affect services.
BDA Chair of General Dental Practice Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen didn’t mince his words: “The message from NHS England to orthodontic providers couldn’t be clearer — Only Big Beasts need apply. We will not let NHS England load the dice in favour of larger providers and jeopardise the livelihoods of hundreds of our members.”
In the meantime, if you’re a provider of NHS dentistry and would like to talk through the potential threats to your revenue and what you can do about them, contact us for a chat.
“There’s an implied threat to all NHS practices”
Zac Fine, content director