BDA Wales wins concessions on higher fees and red tape
The British Dental Association Wales has secured substantial amendments to the new government regulations on private dentistry in Wales, including those to ensure single-handed practitioners are not onerously burdened by annual fees and that private practices are not subject to unreasonable bureaucracy.
A number of substantial modifications have been made to the recently published Care Standards Act 2000 (Extension of Application of Part 2 to Private Dental Practices) (Wales) Regulations 2017, in line with BDA recommendations.
Among the changes that the Welsh Government agreed to adopt is the introduction of a tiered scale of annual fees for private practices to be registered with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales. The originally proposed regulations would have seen an increase of 660 per cent in fees for single-handed dentists and the BDA has lobbied hard to ensure that these annual fees are fairer to smaller practices.
The Welsh Government has agreed to change the proposed flat rate fee of £500 and introduce a simple scale of fees, reducing the annual fee for single-handed practices (providing both NHS and private care) to £300. All other practices will pay £500 to the HIW annually, including private direct access practices.
Several other amendments have ensured the new regulations are less bureaucratic and should be easier for all private dental practices in Wales to comply with.
Katrina Clarke, chair of BDA Wales General Dental Practice Committee, said, “The Welsh Government has listened to reason. Ministers’ original proposals risked heaping financial and bureaucratic burdens upon private dental practices for no obvious gain, leaving single-handed dentists facing a 660 per cent increase in costs, just to register with Healthcare Inspectorate Wales.
“We were determined to fight our members’ corner. The last thing this profession needs is more red tape and higher fees.”
The BDA succeeded in winning several changes or removals of the draft regulations, including:
- Reg 7(b) – the BDA objected to the requirement to give 28 days’ notice of staff leaving as it was not practicable and asked for a reasonable time period. The Welsh Government amended this to within 28 days of the review. In addition, it deemed it is sufficient to provide HIW with an updated list of DCPs annually.
- Reg 13 (6) (c) – BDA Wales argued that private practices themselves should not be expected to provide costly occupational health services. The Government was sympathetic and acknowledged staff and contractors could access their NHS GP for occupational health advice, or be referred by their GP to an NHS occupational health consultant. The regulations were amended accordingly.
- Reg 15 (2) – the BDA noticed some omissions, so the regulations were amended to reflect all the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, sex and sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief – as described in the 2010 Equality Act.
- Reg 23 (4) (a) – was removed after theWelsh Government agreed it would not be necessary to have additional interviews with patients or their representatives, given that the new regulations already contain several other provisions for gathering patient feedback and complaints.
- Reg 24 – the BDA objected to the requirement to routinely submit practiceaccounts on the grounds it would not usefully serve the inspection process; the Government substituted this with the general requirement to ensure the practice is financially viable and only if there were concerns would further evidence be required.
- Reg 27 (2) – the BDA opposed the immediate notification to HIW every time members of staff left or joined the practice, insisting that the annual patient leaflet would be sufficient notification. Therefore Regulation 27 (2) (a)-(d) inclusive was removed.
- Reg 27 (2) (e) – given the BDA position this was removed as the Government recognised that the dental practice would often not know of criminal cautions of dentists/DCPs and, in any case, this is dealt with directly by the police and GDC.
- Paragraph 3 of Schedule 3: Written references –the BDA asked for flexibility on the requirement for two references. The Government concurred and agreed to revise paragraph 3 to require one reference as a minimum.
- Para 5 of Schedule 7: Refund of annual fees –the BDA challenged the maximum refund of 50 per cent and the Welsh Government agreed that it is reasonable to grant a refund of up to 75 per cent of the annual fee if an application to cancel registration is submitted by a registered provider within six months of the due date for the fee to be paid.