The Dentist Magazine.

Capita fiasco

Published: 08/03/2017

The British Dental Association (BDA) has called on MPs to hold NHS subcontractor Capita accountable for administrative failings that are preventing hundreds of NHS dentists from earning a living – putting their practices and their families in jeopardy.

NHS dentists have had to wait – in some cases for up to a year – to get the national performer number required to provide NHS services. Administration of the National Performers List used to be managed by NHS England, but was contracted out to Capita alongside other primary care support services in September 2015. Before Capita won the contract the average application turnaround time was approximately six weeks.

The BDA is now aware of NHS practices that are risking closure as a direct result of this failure, and colleagues unable to meet mortgage repayments.

The BDA has been raising concerns with MPs and has thrown its weight behind Labour’s Steve McCabe, who has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling for the Government to hold Capita to account. It is now asking dentists across the UK to get their MP to join the call. 

Over 550 trainee dentists were expected to stop work on December 1, 2016, as a result of the backlog, until the BDA managed to secure an extension to the applications process. Hundreds of other NHS dentists are still affected. 

The BDA estimates practitioners from all parts of Britain – many at the very start of their careers – have lost out on tens of thousands of pounds in income as a result of the problems, and will be seeking compensation from NHS England for any of those left out of pocket.  

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, chair of general dental practice at the BDA, said, “This latest failure from Capita has forced hundreds of NHS dentists to sit idle for months. It’s a disgrace that practitioners are being denied a livelihood, while hundreds of thousands of patients are being left without access to NHS dentistry.

“We want to thank MPs for their determination to see Capita are held accountable. Neither patients nor practitioners should have to pay the price for failure by an NHS subcontractor.”

The BDA also slammed comments from NHS England as dismissively presenting problems at subcontractor Capita as mere ‘teething issues’.

In their statement, NHS England also disclosed it had secured £30m in savings through use of the troubled subcontractor. The BDA will be using this evidence to make its case for compensation.

Henrik commented, “It’s exceptionally poor judgement from NHS England to fall back on bad jokes about teethingtroubles at Capita when hundreds of NHS dentists have been forced out of work – many left unable to provide for themselves and their families.

“Outsourcing has created this needless backlog. These £30m ‘savings’ have resulted in poorer service that has left patients without access to NHS dentistry, and all those who have lost out should be adequately compensated.”