Northern Ireland news

Dentists warn they 'face a perfect storm' following cuts to vital financial support

The British Dental Association said there are fears that NHS dental care could be 'negatively impacted'
Suzanne McGonagle

DENTISTS have warned they "face a perfect storm" following cuts to vital financial support.

The British Dental Association (BDA) said there are fears that NHS dental care could be "negatively impacted" after it was revealed that a scheme to help practices has been downgraded.

The Rebuilding Support Scheme was introduced in April and applied a 25 per cent uplift on fees paid for health service treatments to help dental practices recover from the impact of Covid.

But it has now emerged that the support will be cut back to 10 per cent from next month.

The BDA said the "cuts in support take place at a time of soaring expenses for high street practices and threaten the survival of the service".

It also said that the "growing disconnect between treatment fees and the actual cost to deliver health service dentistry in Northern Ireland has reached crisis point, leaving many dentists delivering certain treatments at a financial loss".

Ciara Gallagher, chair of the Northern Ireland Dental Practice Committee, said the cuts come at a time of "mounting costs in a service that was under serious financial pressure pre-covid".

"A lifeline that helped keep practices afloat has been cut and dentists are reeling at the message that this sends regarding their futures within the NHS," she said.

"Practitioners face a perfect storm, with expenses on the rise and fees from government which do not cover the costs of delivering care.

"We want to continue caring for our patients – but cannot do so at a loss.

"Like any business, dental practices, have to balance their books, meet payroll and fulfil their obligations to suppliers; when fees paid do not match costs to provide care, this is not possible.

?"If health service dentistry is going to survive, we need meaningful support until a new, fit for purpose contract is in place.

"At a time of widespread dental access issues, and when practices do not view health service dentistry as being financially viable, we are genuinely concerned at the impact on this vital public service from these latest cuts.

"We need extra investment, not less. Time and goodwill is running out."

Northern Ireland news