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LONDON, UK: Owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, dental professionals in the UK are currently advised to carry out only the most essential dental procedures in order to limit the transmission of the virus to the wider population. The decision has prompted a significant drop in both workload and income. To help ease the financial burden for members, some dental organisations and health services in the UK are offering financial support for practices, including subscription relief and continued funding.
Dental Protection has recently announced that, in the coming weeks, its members will receive a subscription relief which is the equivalent of two months of free membership. Alternatively, members who choose to stop practising completely during the crisis will now have the option of becoming deferred members of the organisation. As such, members would no longer need to pay a subscription fee and would be able to return as active members on the same terms as before, once they resume practice. However, Dental Protection noted that, by deferring membership, the members will lose the associated membership benefits if they carry out any clinical activity, including providing telephone triage for patients with urgent needs.
In a letter sent to members, Dental Protection also confirmed that it will be extending its counselling service for those experiencing work-related stress. “As colleagues and as a fellow health professional, we want to support members during these unprecedented times,” said Dr Raj Rattan, dental director at Dental Protection.
The organisation hopes that the subscription relief will help its members during this difficult time. “Members do not need to contact us at this stage. We are sharing our intent to help in this way now, prior to finalising the process, so that the cost of subscriptions is one less thing for them to worry about,” Rattan concluded.
BACD to freeze membership subscriptions
Similarly, to support its members and the dental profession, the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry has announced that it will be freezing all membership subscriptions for the next three months. Additionally, the academy hopes to provide its members with an updated programme of excellent dental education and networking opportunities by July.
NHS England to offer continued funding
Just recently, the chief dental officer for England, Dr Sarah Hurley, and the National Health Service (NHS) announced that the NHS will continue to make monthly payments to all practices in 2020–2021. These will be equal to one-twelfth of a practice’s current annual contract value and will start in April 2020.
According to NASDAL (National Association of Specialist Dental Accountants and Lawyers), the continued NHS funding will be beneficial for practices that have a large commitment to the NHS. However, these practices will no longer be eligible to seek any wider government assistance for small businesses, as this assistance could be duplicative. Practices that are predominantly private and their owners self-employed will not profit from NHS funding, NASDAL noted, and are advised to wait for more information about the chancellor of the exchequer’s scheme for small businesses.
More advice on the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and the mitigation measures being introduced can be found here.
By 30 March, there were 19,526 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK and 1,228 associated deaths, according to the World Health Organization. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also tested positive for coronavirus last week and is currently self-isolating.