£100m funding plans revealed
 

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£100m funding plans revealed

 

£100m funding plans revealed

The government has revealed how it plans to award £100m in funding for NHS dental surgeries. The cash, announced by Health Minister Rosie Winterton at the British Dental Association (BDA) conference in May, is to be made available to refurbish old and dilapidated premises and modernise equipment.

Guidance sent to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), seen by Dentistry magazine, shows that £40m of the fund will be available in 2006/7 and £60m in 2007/8. The money is being allocated to Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) on the basis of local population size in an attempt to make sure every area can enjoy a fair share of funding.

The SHAs are responsible for distributing the money to PCTs in a way which will secure ‘maximum benefits’ for NHS dental services in the long term. Examples of capital projects that stand to win funding are new practices in areas where it is currently difficult to access services. Other projects include modernisation of existing practices to improve access to disabled people, installing washer disinfectors to ensure high-quality decontamination facilities, and new computers for better patient access to services.

Independent contractors are entitled to apply to PCTs for funding so long as they provide ‘a significant level’ of NHS dental services under a General Dental Services (GDS) contract or Personal Dental Services (PDS) agreement. In these cases, contractors will ‘normally’ be expected to share the cost of the capital investment. The level of grant awarded is expected to correspond with the level of commitment to the NHS.

Practices with NHS work accounting for 50-to-90% of their activity might expect to receive a third of the total cost of the proposed investment from the local PCT.

Where NHS activity exceeds 90%, a practice might expect to receive two thirds of the total cost. In providing the extra funding – strictly for one-off investments in buildings, equipment and facilities rather than revenue expenditure such as salaries, supplies and services – the Department of Health (DoH) is seeking a commitment from dentists to stay in the NHS.
Dentists who have already notified patients they intend to reduce their NHS commitments need not apply.

Any contractor who accepts cash only to reduce or cease entirely their NHS dental services will be expected to repay a proportion of the grant.

And PCTs are being ‘strongly advised’ not to commit to payments to contractors which are still entangled in outstanding disputes over the new contract.

By contrast, a practice that shows proof that it will provide access to new patients, where capacity permits, will earn extra brownie points.

The guidance for PCTs states that, when considering how to best deploy the money, decisions should be underpinned by the requirement that investment is ‘genuinely additional’ (over and above the investment that would normally have been made by independent contractors or NHS organisations). They must also offer good value for money.

PCTs are being encouraged, ‘where possible’, to discuss the use of these funds with Local Dental Committees.

 Posted on : Mon 14th - Aug - 2006

 

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