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COVID-19 Update – 11th July 2020

We are pleased to publish our 33rd Covid-19 digest in relation to the Scottish Dental Sector and hope you find it of interest.

POLITICAL UPDATE

This week, as expected, the First Minister announced the movement in to Phase 3 of the road map recovery plans. She issued a revised guidance document alongside her speech and I am sharing this as follows;
Phase 3 Route Map Update 9th July

The document does not provide a huge amount of new information in relation to Scottish Dentistry, however does confirm the movement to Phase 3 on Monday 13th July for NHS practices as previously trailed.
It has always been desirable for an expected timeline to be provided for planning purposes, but at this stage no end date target has been provided for Phase 3. The First Minister did illustrate in her speech however that the other societal relaxations in Phase 3 are considered to be the highest risk measures to date in her recovery plan and as such it should be expected that Phase 3 may well last longer than 3 weeks. This means that for planning purposes it seems almost impossible to expect that we will enter Phase 4 before August. We will watch the infections rates movement over the next few weeks with close interest as it seems likely that this will influence the next steps. 
As has become the normal sequence of communication the announcements were followed by a brief update from the CDO as follows;
CDO Phase 3 Update 9 July

The CDO’s letter makes it clear that there is no expectation/requirement for NHS practices to re-open rapidly and the only mandated progress remains that all practices must be transitioned to Phase 2 as a minimum by the end of July. The letter also creates the expectation that a further revised SDR will be effective from Monday, and I share this later in my digest.

BOUNCEBACK HIGHER WEBINAR PROGRAM

Thank you to everyone who made it along to our webinar on Tuesday evening. Our guest presenter Guy Meyers in his role as a Director of SOE gave us a very useful insight in to the best practice route to follow from a practice management perspective. If you missed his presentation you can still view it on ‘catch up’ by registering at the following link and by using password 8E%7EP#H.

CLINICAL/FUNDING UPDATE

We continue to seek further scientific basis to support the ongoing fallow time guidance and I was pleased to note from the First Minister’s update that a study has been commissioned on AGP’s. It does feel a little ‘slow to the party’ but most welcome as we seek clarity for planning, health and commercial reasons. I hope this is released without too much delay when available.
We have received the following PCA and memorandum this evening in connection with Phase 3
PCA(D)(2020)10 – Remobilisation – Phase 3

Mention is made of the revised SDR in this document and I can share update 145 below;
SDR Amendment No 145

With the exception of some further minor treatment types added that there is very little change of note and it will therefore remain simply an activity tracker exercise rather than seen to be linked to funding. Patient charges remain nil in this phase and there is some concern that this is potentially sending the wrong signals to the patient base but it is felt to be required due to the limitation on treatments available and presumably to avoid a public backlash of some kind emerging.
What is perhaps most disappointing in the letter is that it seems to imply that Board approval is required to extend the amount of surgeries to be opened. Given that this was only issued late today there is no opportunity to seek approval in time for the Monday date and leaves those who have planned to extend their capabilities (as advised) with concerns they may now be operating without approval. It may well therefore be advisable to lodge requests over the weekend with your Board should you wish to extend your capacity. 
As we hoped would be the case it has now been confirmed that the NHS funding support in place for Phases 1&2 will be continued throughout Phase 3. In a small extension to the support package each practice will also be granted a 30% uplift to their GDPA payment. Associate support will be maintained at current levels without change. This extension to NHS practices is in recognition of the incremental costs anticipated in this next phase. The salient point for cashflow planning is extracted as follows:

 “The normal GDPA payment for the quarter ending June 2020 will be paid in July. A further GDPA payment will be made by Practitioner Services in the July schedule paid August 2020 for the backdated element of the increased GDPA from June 2020. Thereafter the GDPA will be paid quarterly as normal.”

FUNDING UPDATE

Flexible Furlough Scheme (FFS)
In addition to the FFS phase of the furlough grant support the Chancellor announced this week a new ‘Job Retention Bonus’ payment. This is set at the level of £1,000 per employee who has been brought back from furlough at any time since 1st March and is retained at least until January 2021. They must earn a minimum of £520 per month to qualify but there is no cap on the number of eligible employees you can receive the bonus for. It is likely to provide a useful further support measure for many Scottish Practices and we will update on how to secure/claim once the full guidance is released towards the end of July.

HMRC Time To Pay (TTP)
It should be remembered, as covered in earlier digests, that the July self assessment payments on account falling due normally by the 31st of this month have been automatically deferred until 31st January 2021. You can take full advantage of this deferral and no action is required. However we are aware that many will prefer to simply pay as normal where affordable and you are of course able to do so. You should be aware however that no interest is payable on early payment from HMRC.
HMRC remain very open to negotiation on deferral of other taxes at this time and if you feel a payment holiday would be supportive you are advised to contact them in advance of the due date to agree. That way you can avoid any arising penalties or interest for late unauthorised payment.

Once again love and best wishes to you at this time from the Dental Accountants Scotland team. I hope you manage to stay safe and well. Have a restful and enjoyable weekend whatever you have planned.

As a recurring reminder – our full team are now working remotely but ready and willing to continue to do all we can to support you in any way possible. Please feel free to continue to call my mobile 07375 700468 (day or night) or book a zoom online consultation here and I will be glad to support you in anyway. Our no fee advice is available to you at this time and we will do all we can as part of your team.
I invite you to keep up to date with information our blog and to like our Facebook page to stay in touch.

Stay safe and look after yourself and all around you at this difficult time.

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