Government exploring ‘non-van solutions’ after promising mobile clinics

Government exploring ‘non-van solutions’ after promising mobile clinics

The government is looking into ‘non-van solutions’ to the dental access crisis despite pledging a fleet of mobile clinics in the NHS dental recovery plan.

In a document on the government website, it reports ‘limited availability’ of both dental vans and the required workforce to run them.

It asks third parties to explore ‘other options such as (but not limited to), the provision of non-van solutions, including the use of local facilities for pop-up services’.

The document adds ‘we are keen to think creatively on how we can best support this target population’.

High needs

The professional body has criticised policies such as dental vans, which while ideally suited for treating high needs populations like the homeless appear geared towards giving government MPs lines to talk to on the doorstep at election time. Delivering mainstream care in dental vans is not cost effective, estimated at 2.5 times the cost of high street practice.

A recent poll of dentists in England by the BDA showed just 3% think the plan will result in their practice seeing more NHS patients.

More than two in five (43%) believe the plan will actually lead to their practice seeing fewer NHS patients. Only 1% of respondents believe the plan is capable of meeting the government’s objective to provide NHS dental care to ‘all who need it’.

‘No new money’

British Dental Association chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘Every MP who boasted to constituents about these vans is going to have to wait on what “non-van solutions” this government can come up with. 

‘This is pure farce. The Prime Minister pledged to restore NHS dentistry. The reality is a plan with no new money, no ambition, and now there aren’t even any vans.’

This comes as the government U-turns on its decision to cut NHS Practitioner Health coverage for hospital dentists and doctors.

However, the British Dental Association (BDA) said that answers are needed on how news of the cancellation was delivered to the profession at the last minute.

According to the BDA, NHS Practitioner Health is the largest publicly funded mental health staff treatment service worldwide. It costs £11m a year to run – around 0.007% of NHS England’s budget.

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