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‘No new adults’: PM discovers what life is like at a typical dental practice

The British Dental Association has responded to news that Rishi Sunak inadvertently visited a practice unable to take on new adult NHS patients.

The Prime Minister met staff and patients at Gentle Dental in Newquay. He said that “it hasn’t been easy enough for people to access NHS dentistry over the past couple of years” but claimed “the announcements this week will make a significant difference, and quickly”.

“It’s a very significant new investment in dentistry so that everyone can get the access that they need,” Mr Sunak said.

The BDA has slammed the wholesale misrepresentation of the money behind the plan. It remains unclear if the £200m is ‘new’ money, but either way it is less than half of the colossal underspends set to be lost from the service, from the struggling practices failing to hit their punitive targets. The dental budget has remained effectively frozen since 2010, hovering around £3bn, translating into savage real-terms cuts of over £1bn.

The professional body described the Recovery Plan as “unworthy of the title”, stating nothing in it can meet the Government’s stated objectives of providing NHS care to all who need it, or the PM’s pledge to ‘restore’ NHS dentistry.

A recent BDA survey indicated 82% of dentists have treated patients who have attempted DIY dentistry since lockdown.

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:

“Rishi Sunak is seeing what life is like for millions across this country. The difference is he has options.

“The PM won’t have to queue around the block to get an appointment. He won’t face travelling hundreds of miles for care. He’ll never find himself reaching for a set of pliers.

“The paucity of the Government’s plan means many patients will keep facing these horrific choices.”