There aren’t any major changes in dental matters to bring to the attention of members of the ICAEW Healthcare Community at the moment, and that’s usually a good thing. Nevertheless a quick run through of what is happening in the dental world might be useful.
First of all, NHS Pension Saving Statements for 2016/17 started to become available for NHS dentists in November 2017. It seems that NHS Pensions are sending Pension Saving Statements out whether or not the dentists are likely to be liable for the Annual Allowance Charge, but of course for many dentists in mixed practices a combination of their NHS Pension and significant private pension contributions may trigger an Annual Allowance Charge.
With regard to NHS orthodontic contracts, the legal challenge against NHS England by the British Dentistry Association has now been suspended, and NHS England are undertaking further work to come up with a revised tendering process. In the meantime NHS England has said that any existing NHS orthodontic contracts which were due to expire in 2018 will not be extended until March 2019.
Two years ago, there was a surplus of associate dentists in many parts of the country, and some newly qualified dentists were struggling to find five full days of work , certainly within the first few months of their Foundation Training. This led to reductions in the amounts being offered to associate dentists. The position has now begun to reverse and many practices are now struggling to recruit associate dentists. To a large extent this has been caused by a combination of Brexit and the value of the pound, with many European dentists deciding that they will be better off leaving the UK. (At the beginning of 2017, 17% of dentists came from other EU/EEA countries.) In addition, the flow of dentists from European countries coming to work in the UK has reduced down to a mere trickle. This is likely to drive up the amounts paid to associates.
Dental practice values are still increasing in some areas, mainly the large conurbations, but at a much slower rate than has been the case in the past. There is however some evidence of practice values falling in remote areas where the NHS contract may be difficult to fulfil due to a combination of low UDA price and reliance on European dentists in those practices.
Senior Partner, Morris & Co