The British Dental Association has said the future of NHS dentistry in England will now hinge on action from Downing Street, the Treasury and the Department of Health, following the election of Liz Truss and the appointment of her new top team.
The discredited NHS contract dentists in England work to is fuelling this crisis. Minor 'tweaks' to this contract announced before summer recess do nothing to improve access, or halt the exodus of dentists from the NHS, and had no additional funding attached. The BDA characterises these changes as amounting to little more than 'rearranging the deckchairs.'
The BDA is seeking a decisive break from this failed, target-based contract, underpinned by sustainable investment. It estimates it would take an extra £880m a year simply to restore resources to 2010 levels. It has stressed government objectives to improve access and boost retention cannot be achieved within the financial constraints set by the Treasury.
Recent BBC research has revealed 9 in 10 practices are unable to take on new adult NHS patients. In Liz Truss's constituency base of Norfolk that stands at 100%, and the same applies in Suffolk, home to Therese Coffey, the new Deputy PM and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. In, Surrey, home to new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, the figure stands at 93%.
Both Conservative leadership candidates stated action on the dental crisis would form a top priority in their new administration, with Liz Truss stating that action on the access crisis in dentistry and general practice would be a 'top 3' target in her first 90 days. Neither candidate stated whether they intend to reverse a decade of savage cuts.
BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:
"These three politicians will determine whether NHS dentistry has a future.
"Like millions of others, their constituents have few options. To save this service the new residents of Number 10, the Treasury and the Department of Health must act now.
"The PM said action on the access crisis would be a top priority. After a decade of savage cuts any progress requires real reform and fair funding."