NHS dentistry recovery plan – what does it say?

Details of the long-awaited NHS dentistry recovery plan have been released – here’s all you need to know so far. 

The report was released today (7 February), with NHS England detailing new measures to tackle the current NHS dental crisis including:

  • NHS dentists will be given a ‘new patient’ payment of between £15 to £50 (depending on treatment need) to treat around a million new patients who have not seen an NHS dentist in two years or more
  • 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
  • A new ‘Smile for Life’ initiative, offering advice to parents and parents-to-be on the right care for baby gums and milk teeth
  • The minimum value of NHS activity increasing to £28 (from £23)
  • ‘Dental vans’ sent to rural areas to help reach the most isolated communities
  • A water fluoridation programme to be rolled out by government (subject to consultation).

The government say the plan could see up to 2.5 million additional NHS dental appointments delivered for patients over the next 12 months, including up to 1.5 million extra treatments being delivered.

You can access the full report here.

Sustainable footing

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: ‘NHS dentistry was hit hard by the pandemic. While services are improving – with 23% more treatments delivered last year compared to the previous year – we know that for too many people, accessing a dentist isn’t as easy as it should be.

‘That’s why we’re taking action today to boost the number of NHS dentists, help cut waiting lists and put NHS dentistry on a sustainable footing for the long-term.

‘Backed by £200 million, this new recovery plan will deliver millions more NHS dental appointments and provide easier and faster access to care for people right across the country.’

According to Sky News, details were inadvertently leaked ahead of time by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). It appeared to have sent an email detailing the new measures to some opposition MPs before the official release.

Jason Wong is the interim chief dental officer for England. He said: ‘Two years ago the NHS implemented the first reforms to dentistry in 16 years. This plan will now build on that work to ensure that one and half million additional dental treatments will be offered to patients next year.

‘Good oral health remains essential for good general health. This package of measures will ensure more patients can access NHS dental services while better supporting dental teams across the country to provide high-quality care.’

Unprecedented scenes

This comes as police in Bristol were recorded breaking up queues of people who were attempting to access NHS dental care in the city this week.

The British Dental Association has warned that current government policies will not ease the crisis in NHS dentistry, following unprecedented scenes in Bristol as police attempted to turn away hundreds of people seeking NHS care.

Lines formed outside a former practice site, now reopening as Saint Pauls Dental Practice. According to The Guardian, the St Pauls area in Bristol has been without a dentist for seven months after the site closed last June.

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