As the Health and Care Bill finished its journey through the House of Commons yesterday, MPs considered a probing amendment proposed by the BDA which called for action and annual progress reports on access to NHS dentistry. New Clause 18 was co-sponsored by 37 Members from four different parties, making it one of the most supported of close to 200 amendments put forward for this debate.
Introducing the amendment, Conservative MP Peter Aldous stressed that problems in the sector “has been brewing for a long time”, with parts of the country now having “dental deserts”. He called for an increase in dental funding and urgent progress on contract reform, as well as a voice for dentists on integrated care boards and partnerships. “We need to act now to put in place an NHS dentistry system that is fit for the 21st century, instead of reversing into the 19th” he summed up, urging the Ministers to set out a clear plan to address the crisis in dental services.
Labour MP Peter Dowd argued that dentistry was “a vital component in people’s health.” He stressed the role dentists play not just in treating teeth and gums, but also in early detection of diseases such as oral cancers. “Let us make sure that dentistry gets the recognition it deserves. Let the Secretary of State report on access to NHS dentistry and give it a seat at the table on integrated care boards and partnerships” he urged.
Other MPs echoed their comments. Conservative Bob Seely MP stressed the need for action to improve dental provision and Labour MP Tan Dhesi said that “after a decade of failure and misguided policies, the Government must take urgent remedial action” in this area. Shadow Health Minister Alex Norris MP criticised the Bill for offering “no answers” to access issues in dentistry.
While the Government did not accept the amendment, the Minister offered to meet with the sponsors of the amendment to discuss their concerns in more detail. Health and Care Bill will now be considered by the House of Lords, and we will continue to lobby for our members interests as it continues its journey through Parliament.