Units of Dental Activity
Since 1st April 2006 NHS dentists in England and Wales have been paid according to how many "Units of Dental Activity" (UDA) they do in a year. Dentists in Scotland still get paid on a "fee per item" basis.
The actual value of a UDA is set by the local NHS Primary Care Trust (England) or Local Health Board (Wales), in discussion with individual dental practices. The average value is around £20 and it varies around the country. Usually the more in need an area is for NHS dentists, the more a UDA is worth. However, this is not always the case and two practices on the same road may have totally different UDA values.
Each dental procedure has been classified into a band which determines what patients pay and the amount of UDAs a dentist gets. The main bands are:
Band 1 (1 UDA)
Diagnosis, treatment planning and maintenance
Examination, x-rays, scale and polish, preventative work, for example an assessment of a patient’s oral health, minor changes to dentures.
Band 2 (3 UDAs)
Simple treatment, for example fillings (including root canal treatment), extractions and periodontal (gum) treatment.
Band 3 (12 UDAs)
Complex treatment that includes a lab element, for example bridges, crowns and dentures (excludes mouth guards).
Additionally, a dentist gets:
• Band 1 urgent treatment only - 1.2 UDAs
• Issue of prescription - 0.75 UDA
• Repair of dental appliance (denture) - 1 UDA
• Repair of dental appliance (bridge) - 1.2 UDAs
• Removal of stitches - 1 UDA
• Stopping bleeding - 1.2 UDAs
UDAs are awarded and calculated for completed treatments. Therefore if, for example you do a treatment with crowns, you will get 12 UDAs. It does not matter if it is 1 crown or 10 crowns, you still get a total of 12 UDAs. If you do a treatment involving endo, you get 3 UDAs and again, it does not matter if it is a simple upper incisor, or 5 difficult molars as you only get awarded 3 UDAs.
However as with all systems, if you know it well, you can make the most of it. Some dentists earn more now than they did in the previous system. If you are new to the NHS system, we strongly encourage you to get on a few days training/induction with an experienced dentist or with a reputable corporate dental employer. You will also benefit from reading the "Understanding NHS Dentistry" book. This excellent publication explains in detail many aspects of the UDA system and gives examples of treatment plans so a dentist can get the most UDAs without being accused of "playing the UDA game".
Professional Dental Services has been granted exclusivity to distribute the second edition of the book along with the publisher. We offer it at the cover price as we understand how useful this book is, especially to dentists new to the UDA system. You can order the book here: "Understanding NHS Dentistry".