We are continuing to fight for a voice for dentistry in new structures set to be created by the Health and Care Bill as it starts its journey through the House of Lords.
We are working jointly with four sister organisations representing GPs, community pharmacy, optical, and audiology services to lobby for better representation of primary care in the new structures, as the responsibility for commissioning dental services shifts from NHS England to the newly created Integrated Care Boards.
Following multiple meetings and briefings, a number of Peers from across the House spoke about this issue in the Second Reading debate.
Lord Crisp, who before he joined the House of Lords was the Chief Executive of NHS England, argued it was vital that not just GPs, but also other primary care professions, had a significant role in approving commissioning plans. Conservative Peer Baroness McIntosh echoed his comments, saying the primary care sector was not as well represented as it should be in the new structures.
Shadow Health Minister Baroness Thornton stressed that primary care provided the vast majority of NHS care and played a key role in prevention and tackling health inequalities. She argued that it was therefore
vital that primary care had an input into the new Integrated Care Partnerships, which will advise the Integrated Care Boards. Lord Hunt of King's Heath has now tabled two amendments to the Bill put forward by the BDA, which require the Integrated Care Boards to consult Local Representative Committees such as LDCs when writing their annual strategic plan, and guarantee a person nominated by the Local Dental Committee in each Integrated Care Partnership. The amendments will be considered when the Bill returns for further consideration in January. The debate was also an opportunity to highlight the current crisis in NHS dentistry. Baroness Finlay referred to caries as a "public health emergency" for children and young people. Baroness Jones gave a passionate speech about the need for contract reform, concluding "the Government need to get a grip on dental care and change the contracts that pay dentists.
The Bill will be scrutinised by the Lords in greater detail at Committee and Report stages early in the New Year, and we continue to lobby for our members' interests as it continues its journey through Parliament.