NHS Dental Contracts – All Your Questions Answered

Published13th April 2022

Get the NHS dental contract information you need with this blog!

NHS dental contracts play a vital role in the business growth of dentists, orthodontists, and specialist dental service providers. Whether you’re working on a re-tender or attempting to win a new NHS dental contract, Healthcare tenders has your back. With this blog, we’ll release the secrets of tendering for the NHS.

Who commissions NHS dental contracts?

When most consider dentistry procurement, they imagine an all-powerful branch of the NHS, but this isn’t true. As you probably know, the Primary Care Trust (PCT) local to your area will list your status as a dentist. The PCT can then advertise a tender for further UDAs (see below) in your area.

PCTs vs LHBs…What’s the difference?

Generally, PCTs are the local dental commissioning board for your area in England.

In Wales, they go by a different name: Local Health Board (LHB).

They both advertise contracts for the provision of NHS dental services.

The only difference between the two is legislation, as the welsh legislation on dental services may be slightly different.

What are UDAs?

Units of Dental Activity are a measure of the amount of work done during dental treatment.

This is the way that PCTs and LHBs monitor your performance as a dental practice. When you take on an NHS dental contract, you’ll be required to fulfil a specific number of UDAs. If this falls below 96%, the PCT is within its rights to issue remedial/breach notices, alongside contract value reductions.

GDS vs PDS – Which contract do I go for?

General Dental Services (GDS) and Personal Dental Services (PDS) are central to NHS dental contracts. The main difference between the two is the provider. If you are entering a GDS, it’s seen as more flexible. For instance, if you accept new partners, they can serve under that contract. PDS’, on the other hand, are more specialised and only apply to someone with precise skills (an orthodontist, for example). A PDS contract tends to be fixed-term, whilst a GDS can be open-ended.

ICCs- The new commissioning body on the block?

As of late, there’s been a push for the further integration of healthcare services. Due to this, a new term has arisen…Integrated Care Services (ICC). As of June 2022, it will subsume the previous role that CCGs provided, covering emergency healthcare services and dental services. What this means for suppliers is that their way of commissioning and receiving contracts for GDS/PDS might change. The main benefit provided by ICCs is that it pools resources, making procurement more effective.

Where can I find dental tenders?

Through our searches for NHS dental contracts, we’ve come to one conclusion…

Healthcare Tenders

By removing unreliable CPV codes, we’ve created a portal that infinitely smoothens the process of searching for tenders.

Our Healthcare Tenders portal uploads a wide range of tenders in the healthcare industry, across the UK. This helps to streamline the process, saving you time and resources.

What is Healthcare Tenders?

Healthcare Tenders is a time-saving tool. Our Opportunity Trackers manually search hundreds of sites for the latest healthcare leads and opportunities. They upload a whole range of opportunities such as single-provider contracts, NHS frameworks and DPSs. Once they are uploaded to our portal, you can filter the results by budget, keyword, location and more.

Below are previous NHS dental contracts sourced on our portal:

Secondary Care Dental Service (Teesside) 

North Of England Commissioning Support – North East – Budget: £572,944

West Midlands Out of Hours Urgent Dental Care Service Based in Birmingham 

NHS England and Improvement – West Midlands – Budget: £600,000

NHSE803 – Invitation to Tender – General Dental Services – Sherburn & Tadcaster 

NHS England and NHS Improvement North East & Yorkshire Region – Yorkshire – Budget: £2,241,947

Provision of General Dental Services for Powys Teaching Health Board 

NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership-Procurement Services (Hosted by Velindre University NHS Trust) – Wales – Budget: £154,000

Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) – General Dental Services 

North Of England Commissioning Support – North West – Budget: £337,000

Want to save even more time?

Upgrading to Discover Elite will ensure you never miss a tendering opportunity, even when you’re busy!

The Ultimate Time-Saving Tool offers your business:

  • An annual subscription to a maximum of two Discover portals of your choice.
  • Up to five bid breakdowns per month to help you make your bid or no-bid decisions.
  • Weekly phone calls with your Account Manager to discuss viable healthcare leads and tendering opportunities.
  • Award and pre-market engagement notices monitored on your behalf.
  • Public and private buyer portal management including registering, password management, downloading documents and assessing viability based on your bid strategy.

Contact us for more information.

The three steps to the dental tendering process


The pre-qualification questionnaire is often part of the NHS dental tendering process. Consider this a long questionnaire listing the requirements for the bid, alongside details of how the service will be provided.


Once the PQQ is completed, if you’re successful, an invitation to tender document (ITT) will likely need to be completed. This will further determine whether you join the shortlist of suppliers. For most suppliers this is the heart of your tendering process, so its wise to allocate the majority of your time here.

Meetings, presentations and interviews

You were successful in the completion of the ITT. You are now among the smallest pool of suppliers. It’s here that the PCT will evaluate your entire performance across the tendering process. Once you’ve completed these, the successful supplier will be offered the NHS dental contract.

7 tips for winning NHS dental contracts for tender!

1. Implement a successful bid management strategy

Any successful suppliers will tell you that bid management is a crucial component to their success. To put it simply, the buyer knows how much you’ve invested into a bid, and if you’ve rushed one. There are many strategies out there for bid management but keeping ahead of deadlines should be a high priority. A buyer won’t appreciate a late submission. In fact, if you fail to meet the deadline, your response simply won’t be accepted, regardless of its quality. So, organise progress meetings with your team to showcase your collaborative capabilities. Set internal deadlines so that the bid is broken down into achievable chunks.. Ultimately, all of these bid management strategies will set you up well for bid success.

2. Fully read the tender documents

Too many suppliers provide too much/too little information on questions. In your response, take time aside to focus on the questions regarding:

  • Patient care
  • Risk mitigation
  • Performance management
  • Customer services.

These are the questions that will likely provide you with the best chance to sell yourself. Be careful to avoid including fluffy marketing material or irrelevant information. This will only work to confuse and irritate the buyer, and that’s the last thing you want as a supplier.

3. Relevant case studies

Case studies are vital in responding to NHS Dental contracts for tender. It’s even more important that they’re relevant to the contract you’re bidding for. This also goes for testimonials. Both forms of evidence help provide a real picture of your capabilities. It’s advised that you should provide three case studies from the last five years. Ultimately, the closer your previous work is to the contract, the better.

4. Ensure that you have adequate accreditations & qualifications

It goes without saying, but the healthcare industry is one that rightly requires certain qualifications. This especially applies to you as the supplier of medicines, and without them, you fall at the first hurdle. It’s dreadful when you’ve invested time into a bid for it to fail because of not having the qualifications. So, to avoid this, thoroughly read and digest the requirements. This is especially important in the case of Personal Dental Services (PDS). These contracts require someone specialised within the dental industry such as an orthodontist.

5. Proofreading & Grammar

Competition for NHS dental contracts for tender can be intense, so ensuring documents are grammatically correct is vital. Part of that process is proofreading. Look over your work multiple times to make sure errors are corrected. It also helps to get a colleague to look it over for stray errors. Look into outsourcing as an option. Our sister company Hudson Succeed hosts the service Tender Mentor that aids with proofreading.  Send your work to their team and they will provide a critical review, ensuring it’s error-free when you submit the bid.

6. Stick to the formatting requirements

NHS Dental tenders can be rather strict when it comes to formatting. If you blatantly ignore instructions, it will reflect poorly on you and your business. Make sure before you submit that the font and font size is what is stated in the guidance document.

Moreover, you should stick to the word/character counts. If a buyer is wanting a longer response, they will include an additional text box.

So, it’s best if you’re writing your response in Word, for example, to check your character count with spaces. You don’t want to be writing a detailed 1000-word response to then have to cut it down.

7. Be proactive with your feedback!

In the case that you’re unsuccessful, be proactive in asking for feedback from the buyer. Not only will this help inform your future attempts with the buyer, but it’ll improve your bidding as a whole.

Another way to increase your chances of success when bidding for dental contracts is to highlight added value.

In the public sector, contracts are awarded to the most economically advantageous tender, or the ‘MEAT’. Therefore, when producing your tender response, you need to show how you’re going to add value to the buyer. What can you offer that your competitors don’t have? This could include anything from innovation to sustainability.

In summary

So that’s it. We’ve finished this blog on the intricacies of NHS dental contracts, and the tricks to sourcing/winning them. What if you need a recap?

Who commissions the NHS dental contracts? – Within each regional area, a Primary Care Trusts exists that overlooks dental procurement.

PCTs vs LHBs- Whats the difference – PCTs are the regional dental commissioning board, and LHBs are the Welsh equivalent.

What are UDAs – Units of Dental Activity (UDAs) act as a measure of dental services.

GDS vs PDS – Which contract do I go for? – General Dental Services overlook normal dental services, whereas Personal Dental Services focus on specialised dental services such as orthodonture.

ICCs- the new commissioning board on the block? – With the advent of Integrated Care Systems, they may replace PCTs in the commissioning of Dental services.

Where can I find dental services? – A look into our specalised service for searching Healthcare Tenders.

The three steps to the tendering process

  1. PQQ – A pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) it covers the minimum requirements for tendering.
  2. ITT – A heavier tender document overlooking pricing, delivery, quality etc.
  3. Meetings, presentations & interviews – Final selection phase to ensure the best candidate is selected.

7 tips for winning NHS contracts for tender

  1. Implement a bid management strategy – Organise your team through meetings and internal deadlines.
  2. Fully read the tender documents – Be sure to fully digest the documentation and avoid irrelevant answers.
  3. Relevant case studies – Make sure to include similar testimonies and past experience in your tender documentation.
  4. Ensure adequate accreditation & qualifications – Ensure that you have all the relevant qualifications and criteria for tendering.
  5. Proofreading & grammar – Retain a grammatical standard, and get friends, family, and colleagues to review your work.
  6. Stick to the formatting requirements – Follows the buyer’s instructions when it comes to word count, font etc.
  7. Be proactive with your feedback – Take the initiative if you don’t win the tender, asking questions as to why you didn’t win.

Need help writing your next dental tender?

If you don’t have the resources or time to write a winning bid, why not outsource it? Our sister company, Hudson Succeed, boasts an 87% success rate and have over 60 years of collective bidding experience. They offer four bid writing support packages to help you on the path to success. Whether you’re new to tendering, or simply need someone to proof your written response before you submit – we can help.

Tender Ready

Our Tender Ready programme is designed for those who have never tendered before. This four-week programme works with you to ensure you have everything in place to tender successfully.

Tender Improvement

Tender Improvement can help if you’re already tendering but aren’t seeing success from your current efforts. Our Bid Writers will assess your previous submissions and supporting documents. They’ll give you feedback and guidance on how to improve, helping you to secure your next NHS dental contract.

Tender Mentor

If you’ve written a tender and need someone to proofread, it – Tender Mentor is for you. A Bid Writer will double-check it’s in line with the specification and free of any grammar or spelling mistakes.

Tender Writing

If you’ve found the perfect tender but don’t know where to start – we can help. Send the specification over to us and our Bid Team will do the rest. They’ll let you know what they need from you and provide you with a full breakdown. They’ll even submit it on your behalf, leaving you more time to focus on your business.

Get in touch to find out more information about our bid management consultancy services.

Similar Insights

Hospital Bids: The Secrets to Success

Read Article

Tendering for Home Care Contracts? Read This First!

Read Article