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Government offers big ambitions but no action to save NHS dentistry

The British Dental Association has lamented the Government’s failure to fully embrace the Health and Social Care Committee’s recommendations, specifically its unwillingness to fix the broken contract fuelling the current access crisis. 

In its official response to the Committee’s inquiry into NHS dentistry, overdue since 14 September, the Government reiterates a bold ambition to “ensure that every adult and child who needs an NHS dentist can access one, regardless of where they live.” However, the BDA has stressed it does not see any real evidence of the required urgency and ambition to deliver that objective.The Government has not fully accepted recommendations to reform the discredited contract driving severe recruitment and retention problems, and with an unprecedented access crisis. Dentist leaders say the Government has singularly failed to show it shares the aspirations of the Committee, who offered a roadmap for rebuilding a patient-centred, prevention-focused service.

A recovery plan for NHS dentistry pledged by the Government in April remains undelivered. The Health and Social Care Committee has stressed any plan must have “the scope and ambition required to immediately address the crisis of access people across the country are experiencing. This should be accompanied by the necessary funding and a plan for swift implementation.”

The BDA have underlined that a break from the failed NHS contract is the only way of realising stated ambitions from the very of top of government to ‘restore NHS dentistry’.BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:“The Government claim they want access for all but appear unwilling to make any commitments that could actually achieve that.“If Minsters won’t fix a failed contract NHS dentistry will remain built on sand, and risks being swept away.“We’ve heard big ambitions but no action, and our patients will continue paying the price.”