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MPs debate impact of COVID-19 on dental services

On Thursday 14 January, the House of Commons held a debate on the impact of COVID-19 on dental services.

The debate, which was sponsored by Fleur Anderson MP and which we worked with her to secure, was granted after 36 MPs from seven parties came together to call for it.

The key theme of the debate was the imposition of activity targets on NHS dental practices from 1 January. MPs almost unanimously condemned the new target, with Members from both sides of the House urging the Minister to abandon it. Following our campaign calling on members to contact their representatives, many MPs quoted testimonies of their local dentists, stressing how the targets threaten patient safety and the stability and viability of practices.

Many MPs also echoed our calls for greater support for private practices including business rates relief, funding for ventilation equipment to help bring down fallow time, priority access to COVID-19 vaccination, and wider reform of the failed UDA system.

The Minister Jo Churchill MP refused to abandon the new target, but offered assurances that an exceptions process was in place which would take into account circumstances such as staff sickness and patient non-attendance. She confirmed dentists and their teams would have priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine and reiterated her commitment to long-term reform of the NHS dental system.

We will keep you updated on our campaign for greater support for practices through the pandemic and against the new activity targets.