April fools’ day
 

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April fools’ day

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April fools’ day

 

April fools’ day

Julian English, talks about the new contract, and the real issues

Last month I talked about the future of the new contract and what will occur before 2009, this time I want to talk about the present.

By the end of this month, dentists should have negotiated and agreed their PDS contract value, been issued and agreed UDA values and have discussed a plan going forward with the Primary Care Trust (PCT). By 31 March, dentists must have signed a new contract, committing them to a brand new way of working for three years.

UDA values were late coming through, ‘quelle surprise’. Therefore, in a ludicrously short space of time (six-eight weeks), a dentist/small business owner, must make a decision for his life, wife, offspring, community, customers and staff. If this circumstance was transferred to a ‘government cabinet meeting’, it could be described as being slipped in ‘last item before lunch’.

It is a big decision to make, putting to one side all the flaws and problems with the draft contract. Six to eight weeks is too short for such a monumental decision! Negotiations with those lovely people at the PCT make overrun, and the dentist’s defence organisation needs time to scrutinise, unravel and optimise the deal for their client. When you consider there are 153 A4 pages of draft contract (before any detail specific to the dentist is included), this is a colossal task.

This week, the word around the campfire is that contract negotiations with PCTs are going sour. Dentists are reporting confusion, delaying tactics and intractable behaviour. The biggest concern (at the time of writing) is the worry about erroneous figures coming from the DPB. The unrepresentative figures are inflating UDAs, and giving unrealitic expectations of treatment levels for 2006 and the new contract. How can the DPB count a recemented crown as a new crown? Check your UDAs right now!

With such a short time scale to get everything finalise, did the Department of Health assume practices would ignorantly sign on the dotted line just because the contract was nicely presented?

It is increasingly clear that the new contract is workable for a minority of dentists in specific locations with specific needs and patient demographics. But by 1 April, if dentists have not already considered the long-term implications of this new contract (2009 and beyond), and correctly calculated whether it can really work for them, then it will truly be April fools’ day for some poor souls.

Julian English
Executive editor

 Posted on : Fri 3rd - Feb - 2006

 

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