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Minister challenged over plan to boost dentistry

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Minister challenged over plan to boost dentistry

Just 3% of dentists believe the plan will result in them seeing more NHS patients

A survey of 1,104 dentists in England found that 43% actually believe the proposals will lead to them seeing fewer NHS patients, while 54% said the number of NHS patients they see will remain the same.

The Government unveiled its £200 million plan to bolster NHS dentistry in England last month.

However, leading dentists said the recovery package will not be enough to help people struggling to access dental care.

A new poll by the British Dental Association (BDA) found that three-quarters (75%) of dentists do not believe that the plan will improve NHS access for new patients.

More than nine in 10 (93%) said that the proposals are not sufficiently ambitious to meet the scale of the challenge facing NHS dentistry.

The dental recovery plan includes:

– £20,000 bonuses for dentists working in under-served communities.

– Dentists being paid more for NHS work.

– A “Smile for Life” advice programme aimed at new parents and mobile dental teams being deployed to schools.

– The rollout of so-called “dental vans” in rural and coastal communities.

– Plans for the biggest expansion of water fluoridation in England since the 1980s.

As the plan was unveiled, hundreds of people were seen queuing in Bristol after a dentist opened up its books for new NHS patients.

Police were called to help manage the queues people stood for hours hoping to get on the list for NHS care.

MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee are to quiz Health Minister Dame Andrea Leadsom on the Government’s recovery plan for NHS dental services on Tuesday.

The Government said that the plan will “fund more than 1.5 million additional NHS dentistry treatments or 2.5 million NHS dentistry appointments”.

But the BDA has called on the Government to release the modelling behind the claim.

Shawn Charlwood, chair of the British Dental Association’s general dental practice committee, who will also give evidence to the committee on Tuesday, said: “Check-ups are hard to come by, but it will prove much harder for Ministers to find a dentist who backs their outlandish claims.

“This profession has seen through the spin.

“Empty soundbites won’t stop queues outside practices, and dodgy statistics won’t call time on ‘DIY’ dentistry.

“Bringing dentistry back into the 21st century requires real commitment, which is frankly in short supply.”

Chris McCann, from Healthwatch England, said: “NHS dentistry has been in crisis for some time, with many people unable to access an NHS dentist and not having the means to pay for private care.

“The dental recovery plan is meant to help alleviate the problem patients face by offering more check-ups to those who have not seen a dentist for years.

“We’ve yet to see any official data on how well the plan is working, but it’s concerning to hear that so few dentists appear to have confidence that it will.

“In the short-term, practical steps must be taken to make it as easy as possible for the public to determine which dentists are offering appointments to those who haven’t been seen in the last two years. In the longer run, we need more fundamental reform so everyone can access and afford dental care.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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