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COVID-19 UPDATE #55 – 24th March 2022

I hope my note reaches you and your loved ones safe and well. 
I bring you my 55th digest for the Scottish Dental Sector during the pandemic and hope you find this of value.
Hope you find the digest of support and value. As always if you need any help or have any feedback please do get in touch.

We are very grateful for everybody who has contributed already to the largest Scottish dental sector survey on wages, associate splits, suppliers and associated issues.
We intend to hold the survey open for one more week only. We would encourage you to take part if you have not already submitted your responses. Please follow this link to complete the survey and you will receive a free advance copy of the report when available.

Yesterday the Chancellor took to parliament to deliver his spring statement. In a period where inflation appears to be heading out of control (set to peak around 10%) and the international events of the Ukraine invasion, the Covid pandemic, Brexit and energy costs rising sharply means that the economy is a fairly fragile state. The OBR has been quoted as saying that we are facing the biggest drop in living standards since records began (1956/57). The chancellor has an uphill battle to recover the national finances and in the medium term we can probably still look forward to tax rises we feel, particularly given the reduced growth forecasts.
The main announcements from the spring budget which impact the dental sector are as follows;

  • A further 40% forecasted rise in energy bills in October 2022 if wholesale prices remain at current levels
  • The income threshold at which NIC is paid will rise to £12,570 in July cutting tax for employees by around £330
  • The pledge to cut basic rate of income tax from 20% to 19% before the end of this parliament (in practical terms that is likely to mean by 2024)
  • Employment allowance shall rise from £4,000 to £5,000 from April 2022

What was positive to note that the temptation for the chancellor to start harmonising capital gains tax rates with income tax rates was resisted giving some breathing space to those in the throes of selling their practices and hoping to benefit from the 10% rate of Business Asset Disposal Relief. We have already been forewarned however that this will rise in the medium term.
The budget was relatively short, perhaps a symptom of the perilous state of the country’s finances and some of the cuts announced do help to defray the already announced rise in NIC rates facing employers and employees in the next tax year.

NHS Support
A PCA was recently issued in relation to NHS funding support for ventilation and hand piece/ other equipment along with a one-off sustainability payment. The document can be read in its entirety at the link below.
PCA(D)(2022)(4) Funding support and sustainability

In summary it is confirmed that a fund remains open and available for the speed adjusting hand pieces and ventilation as well as other dental equipment. An example list of other equipment was included as

  • a dental chair
  • dental operating lights
  • cuspidor or spittoon
  • dental suction
  • dental compressor
  • dental X-ray units. 

Any NHS practices looking to invest in or replace this type of equipment would be advised to express a notification of interest to your board before the 31st of March 2022 deadline Please don’t miss this deadline as you may miss out on valuable funding. An expression of interest does not contract you to spending any money so a precautionary move would be sensible to notify your interest before the deadline to keep your options open. 
In addition to this funding stream, you can avail yourself off a one-off sustainability payment to meet the cost of a legionella risk assessment and extra hours provisions. This will be paid automatically but if you do not wish to receive it you have to opt out before the deadline. Unlike the multiplier of 0.7x on items of services, all orthodontic practices are eligible for this funding.
We are aware that SDPC have expressed strongly the concerns they have that the recent changes to the SDR did not involve any meaningful consultation whatsoever. They are requesting a more meaningful dialogue for any future interim funding models or negotiations. A copy of the recent SPDC/BDA Scotland letter can be found at the following link.
BDA – SDPC Letter

PSD have now issued a FAQ document on the revised payment arrangements, which I covered on my last digest from PCA(D)(2022(3). You can read this document at the link below.
FAQ on revised payment arrangements

As you can read from the document, all treatments opened and submitted after the first of April 2022, regardless of when the treatment case was opened will be included in the 0.7 multiplier. The multiplier is based on the gross items of service fees paid in lines 3 and 37 on your E-schedules. Patients will be unaffected regardless of their exemption or fee payment status and the multiplier will be paid on line 7. It will also receive superannuation allowance. Thankfully this multiplier will now apply to all dentists, and it is hoped that this may eradicate/reduce the movement of labour issues that have been faced in the sector over the last 2 years partly due to the restrictions in the previous support scheme.

Hope you are enjoying the sunshine this week. Stay safe and look after yourself and all around you at this difficult time.

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