The Government announced its NHS Dental Recovery Plan on Wednesday the 7th of February and in welcoming the plan, Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon asked the Minister for more specific support with recruitment issues in North Devon.
Backed by £200 million of new Government funding, the plan sets out a package of measures to deliver 2.5 million additional NHS dental appointments over the next 12 months, ensuring they are where they needed most, and expanding preventative care for younger children to help reduce tooth decay.
To help improve access in the short term, new dental vans are being launched to help reach more isolated rural and coastal communities. In the longer term, around 240 dentists will be offered one off payments of up to £20,000 for working in underserved areas for up to three years, helping to attract new NHS dentists and improve provision of care in areas with the highest demand.
Further measures include introducing a New Patient Premium payment to incentivise dentists to treat around a million new patients who have not seen an NHS dentist in two years or more. The scheme will be introduced within weeks, ensuring that patients can benefit immediately. The minimum value of activity will increase from £23 to £28 and high performing practices will also be able to deliver extra work on top of their contracted activity, ensuring that NHS work is more attractive to dental teams.
Trainee dental places will be expanded by 40 per cent as part of the first ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, as the Conservative Government looks to target the expansion into areas of the country which are underserved by the dental workforce.
Expanded prevention care is also being rolled out for younger children to help reduce tooth decay and improve the nation’s oral health. The Smile for Life programme will offer parents further advice on baby gums and milk teeth, with babies and toddlers in nurseries having tooth brushing as part of the daily routine, so that every child will see tooth brushing as a normal part of their day by the time they get to primary school.
The Government will consult on wider reforms to the dental workforce and contract in 2024, taking the long term decisions to ensure that dental services can be there for families for the years to come.
Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon said:
“Everyone should be able to access NHS dentistry quickly and easily, and I understand the frustration of people in North Devon when they need to see a dentist but struggle to get an NHS appointment.
“I welcome that the Government has finally published its NHS Dental Recovery Plan, creating 2.5 million more NHS dental appointments over the next year and I have asked the Secretary of State specifically about recruitment issues here in North Devon.
“I have met the Health Minister, Andrea Leadsom MP on multiple occasions to highlight our issues, partly as a result of residents who signed my petition for emergency dental support in North Devon and those who have written to me about their problems. I have used the strength of feeling and correspondence to push North Devon’s case for extra support and to be your voice in Westminster.
“The Conservative Government is sticking to our plan to deliver immediate and long term change to improve access to NHS dentistry. Our ambitious commitments far exceed the unfunded pledges made by the opposition and will ensure that everyone can access the right care and stay healthy for years to come.
“I look forward to seeing dental vans in South Molton and Ilfracombe and continue my work with the Minister to encourage health care staff to come to North Devon, to help fill the gaps in our health, workforce and particularly dentists.”
Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins MP said:
“Dentistry is a priority for this government. I know from my experience representing a rural and coastal constituency in Lincolnshire how frustrating it is for people who cannot get a dentist appointment, especially after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dentistry. We have seen big improvements over the past year, but now we are going much further.
“I’m determined to deliver faster, simpler and fairer access to NHS dentistry for patients – and this plan will help anyone who has not been able to see a dentist in the past two years to do so.
“The long-term decisions we are taking will help ensure that good oral health is available to all, wherever you live and whatever your background.”