Government needs to act with purpose, not stealth

With the exodus from the NHS growing momentum, Nigel Jones explains why a move to private dentistry is ‘realistic and achievable’. 

So, the deadline has passed for contributions to the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry into NHS dentistry. Even with the 3000-word limit per submission, I imagine there is a lot to sift through.

And that sifting will have to be done quickly, given the integrated care involvement in the provision of dental services from April onwards.

It is hard to imagine much new will arise in terms of diagnosing the problems that beset NHS dentistry other than perhaps a better appreciation of both the scale of the challenge and the urgency required to avoid a complete collapse.

If the data to which I have access is anything to go by, the exodus from the NHS is gaining more and more momentum as confidence grows. In most cases, a successful move to private dentistry is realistic and achievable.

Sufficient priority

Identifying or confirming yet again the problems with NHS dentistry is one thing. Coming up with an appropriate treatment plan will be another.

If that were straightforward, I’m fairly sure more progress would have been made in the last decade or more, if only to reduce the bad publicity.

However, there has been very little success at trying to find a way forward. Especially one that adequately meets the needs of patients, the profession and government.

But having said that, some of the more cynical may argue that the current state of affairs exactly meets the needs of government.

There’s some growing evidence of the regularly attending public attaching sufficient priority to their oral health they are prepared to pay privately.

However, what of the working poor? What of the most vulnerable patients in society? What of the hard-to-reach patients disadvantaged financially and educationally?

NHS dentistry needs to be reinvented purposefully not stealthily. The Health and Social Care Committee inquiry has an opportunity to be the catalyst for that reinvention.

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