‘Unattainable targets’ – MPs debate impact of COVID-19 on dental services

government debate on dentistryMembers of Parliament pushed for the government to scrap NHS dental targets in the latest bid to protect dental services. 

Speaking in the house of commons yesterday, MPs from both sides of the house took part in a debate on the impact of COVID-19 on dentistry.

Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, said she was speaking on behalf of patients, practices and laboratories who felt ‘ignored’ during the pandemic.

‘There are serious consequences to the impact of COVID-19 on dental practices,’ she said.

‘My message today is simple. We are sleeping walking into the biggest oral health crisis since the creation of the NHS. Unless the government begins to recognise that dentistry is an essential health service, the sector will collapse.

‘The current activity targets are unattainable and need to be scrapped.’

Saddened

MP Jane Hunt thanked the dental profession for their hard work, revealing that she herself had received urgent care both during the first lockdown and this week.

‘The added dimension is that should dental practices miss the targets by as little as 1%, they receive considerably less revenue for the work they have already carried out,’ she said.

‘Dentists are also given no leeway for any cancellations and no shows in their contract. Even though this may lead to those missed targets.’

Jo Churchill, parliamentary under-secretary for health and social care, also voiced her concerns over the future of the profession. She emphasised that patients and dental practices need to be equally considered.

‘Access to dentistry is something that unites across this house,’ she said.

‘I was quite saddened that the support for patients was perhaps a quieter voice in this debate today than the support for the profession. This is only going to work if we support them both.’

Demanding circumstances

Dental Protection have joined the calls for change, urging the government to support struggling dental professionals.

‘We are pleased that MPs have debated this important issue,’ said Raj Rattan, dental director at Dental Protection.

‘Dentists have faced a range of challenges throughout the pandemic. Many have returned to practise in equally demanding circumstances. Despite this, dental professionals always put the interests of their patients first. They have remained committed to providing high standards of care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘We have highlighted some specific measures we believe could be taken now to help ensure dental professionals are well supported and are able to continue to provide necessary treatment and care for their patients.

‘It is important that government policies and intentions recognise and reflect the immediate needs of patients. This includes the most vulnerable groups, the significant challenges facing dental professionals and the need to ensure financial stability to protect the longevity and quality of this essential healthcare service.’


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