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​England: Only modest changes expected for NHS dentistry

14 June 2022

We have responded to comments from Minister Maria Caulfield MP in the House of Commons today, suggesting that announcements on reform of the failed NHS dental system will be made this side of Parliament’s summer recess.

We anticipate only modest, marginal changes to the current discredited target-based NHS dental contract will be announced before summer. Formal negotiations on meaningful wholesale reform of the contract are yet to begin. 

The current system funds care for little over half the population and sets perverse incentives to dentists, rewarding them the same for doing one filling as ten. The unsuitability of this model during the pandemic has accelerated the drift of dentists away from the NHS into a full-on exodus. Over 3,000 dentists have left the NHS in England since lockdown, with many more significantly reducing their NHS commitment.   

Shawn Charlwood, Chair of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice Committee, said: "Real change is not coming this side of the summer. What we're expecting are modest, marginal fixes to the current failed system, and negotiations on the fundamental change needed have yet to begin. This will be a test of the government's ambition. Will Ministers provide the resources and reform that millions of patients require, or will they consider a few tweaks to a broken model as mission accomplished?"