The government’s promises of a ‘big package of change’ for NHS dentistry have been received with scepticism from the dental community.
The government was challenged to reveal when its long-term recovery plan for NHS dentistry would be released at the House of Commons yesterday (23 January).
Under-Secretary for Health Andrea Leadsom replied that the plan would be ‘published shortly, setting out a big package of change’ for NHS dentistry.
She added: ‘I am determined to ensure that everybody who needs NHS dental care can receive it.’
The British Dental Association responded to these remarks with doubt, saying there was ‘still no sign the government has any intention of taking action’.
BDA chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘The government says there’s going to be a “big package” for NHS dentistry. Size really doesn’t matter if the package is empty. Ministers keep offering big ambitions but have not set out any concrete plans capable of achieving them.’
‘The government have not got a plan’
Members of the Labour Party also criticised the announcement during the debate.
Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, said: ‘We were promised before the summer, we were promised after the summer, we were promised before Christmas, we were promised soon, and now we have been promised shortly.
‘The reality is is that our benches have got a plan and the government have not got a plan.’
The Under-Secretary defended the government against the criticism, stating that NHS dentistry had already seen improvement recently.
She said: ‘The situation has improved over the last year. Since the COVID pandemic, where almost every dentist had to stop working altogether, we have not seen the recovery we want.
‘We are putting in plans—not a paper ambition like the one Labour has put forward, but significant reforms that will enable many more people to be seen by NHS dentists.’
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