The possibility of re-tendering for your NHS contract

Posted by Denplan on 18/04/2016

If every five years meant re-tendering for your NHS contract…how would that affect your long-term plan?

HM Treasury released its “A better deal” report in November 2015, which included this disturbing paragraph: 

“The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found the dentistry market in England to be subject to rigid regulatory controls that dictate who can enter the market and where, restricting innovation and patient choice. The government believes that there are opportunities to improve both efficiency and competition in the provision of dental services and will be carefully considering the issue of non-time limited dental contracts as part of broader work on contract reform.” (HM Treasury emphasis) 

This is not the first remark to this effect either as the OFT report in June 2012, noted that ‘the existing NHS dental contract in England acts as a barrier to entry and expansion in the dentistry market.’ This appears to be recognition of the serious blight that exists on opening new NHS practices or getting a new NHS contract and how this affects a free market with its attendant implications for competition and efficiency. 

Whichever way you look at it, any change now or in the future to time-limited contracts could have a far reaching impact. We could well see a reverse of the artificial hike in the value of NHS dental practices, and a free for all in reverse auctions could well ensue. That’s not to mention the possible huge complications for the NHS Business Services Authority. 

Although such an impact might seem to make this change unpalatable to Government, the Treasury commitment is clearly stated, and no-one, even those well-placed, has made any comment to deny the possibility. 

As practitioners, we’re all aware that building a successful, sustainable dental practice is a long-term business, a huge personal investment in capital and effort that pays back only over time. While, in an uncertain world, no one can predict the future with absolute confidence, the possibility of regular contract reviews makes it challenging to commit to any long-term plan. 

If you are an NHS dentist and you would like to find out more about the different options to help you secure the future of your practice, visit our 'if' pages. Don’t fall behind. Let us help you stay in front.

If you could add one line to the NHS dental contract, what would it be? Tweet @shp_dentists #NHSStayinfront to join in. Follow us on Twitter @shp_dentists to stay up to date with the latest developments.