NI grant scheme “a much needed boost”
A £1 million grant scheme for GDS dental practices has been welcomed by BDA Northern Ireland.
Utilising underspend in the 2017-18 GDS budget, the Revenue Grant Scheme aims to help dental practices invest in meeting patient care quality and safety standards, as well as modernising practice infrastructure.
Funding must be used by 31 March 2018, but it will apply retrospectively to purchases made in the 2017/18 financial year.
It is understood eligible items of expenditure range from everyday consumables such as files and gloves, to larger one-off practice investments such as amalgamators, cameras and hand instruments, as well as relevant training courses.
A maximum allowance of 80 pence per Health Service registered patient has been set aside under the scheme. Practices are being written to advising of details of the grant scheme, and with an indication of their maximum practice allowance.
Responding to the launch of the scheme, BDA NI Dental Practice Committee chair, Richard Graham, said,"General dental practices have been under unprecedented financial pressure over recent years, and this has directly impacted on their ability to invest in practice. It is right that money earmarked for dentistry within the GDS should be retained within dentistry.
"We have been assured that this scheme has been designed by the Health and Social Care Board with maximum flexibility in mind, and we believe most practices should be able to benefit.
"I encourage every practice owner to contact their local dental advisor, and make claims for the relevant items."
BDA Northern Ireland representatives have been making the case for retaining any GDS underspend within dentistry. A grant scheme was mooted by BDA in discussions with the Department of Health and Health and Social Care Board officials prior to Christmas.
The BDA's chair of General Dental Practice Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen added, "Across the UK underspends and clawback are being lost to the service, even as a growing number of areas are unable to meet demand. Budget set aside for NHS dentistry should be spent on NHS dentistry. This one off investment sets an important precedent that should guide each of the UK nations."
The BDA has set out advice for dentists looking to make a claim, which can be accessed here - https://www.bda.org/news-centre/blog/Pages/Revenue-Grant-Scheme-How-does-it-work-and-how-can-I-claim.aspx.
Meanwhile, negotiations with the Department on the Doctors and Dentists’ Review Body uplift have concluded successfully, resulting in an uplift of 1.5 per cent, an increase on the 1.13 per cent figure initially suggested.