Particularly following the pandemic, many residents have faced increased challenges accessing NHS dental care. Whilst the Government made changes to improve the contract back in 2022, it was clear that more needed to be done to get NHS dentistry back to where we would like it to be.
I am pleased that this week the Government has published its NHS Dental Recovery Plan.
Under the plan, patients will benefit from millions more NHS dental appointments over the next year which is being supported by £200m of government funding.
NHS dentists will be given a “new patient” payment of between £15-£50 (depending on treatment needed) to treat those patients who have not seen a dentist in two years or more.
The plan also has a particular focus on prevention and good oral health in young children through the “Smile for Life” programme which will see parents and parents-to-be offered advice for baby gums and milk teeth, with the aim that by the time children go to school, every child will see tooth brushing as a normal part of their day.
A key part of the plan focuses on the NHS dental workforce. To attract new NHS dentists and improve access to care in areas with the highest demand, around 240 dentists will be offered one-off payments of up to £20,000 for working in under-served areas for up to three years. NHS work will be made more attractive to dental teams with the minimum value of activity increasing to £28 from £23. As part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, a pipeline of new dentists and other dental care professionals will be built, including increasing dental places up to 40% by 2031/32. The plan also includes new measures to attract dentists to work in the NHS, including supporting more graduate dentists to work in the NHS. The Government will also consult on whether dentists should be required to work in the NHS for a period upon completing their training.
It is really important that patients can easily see which practices in their local area are accepting new patients and I am pleased that patients will be able to see this through the NHS website and NHS App. The Government will also roll out a marketing campaign encouraging anyone who has not been seen by a dentist for the past two years to access treatment.
Picture: Jeremy Quin with the Association of Dental Groups who he met at an event held in Parliament last week.