“An essential service that must be protected at any cost” – Oral Health Foundation backs latest report exposing NHS dentistry crisis


  Posted by: Dental Design      21st July 2023

The Oral Health Foundation has welcomed a new damning report exposing the unacceptable decline of NHS dentistry.

In a recently published report, the Health and Social Care Committee found that NHS dentistry is in crisis and in need of fundamental reform.

Over the last week, the Oral Health Foundation has been applauding the outcomes of the report, blasting officials on the current state of NHS dentistry, and calling for urgent and decisive action to end the current mess that surrounds NHS dentistry.

Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, says: “NHS dentistry has been in freefall for years. Unsupported by government with no clear plan or direction towards an efficient and sustainable model to make NHS dentistry fit for purpose in today’s landscape.

“The Health Select Committee inquiry, which took place earlier this year, gave a voice to thousands of people within the profession and industry to express their disappointments, fears and anger over the state of NHS dentistry. The Oral Health Foundation’s response was deeply critical, and we are delighted that many of our concerns were matched in the published report last week.”

The charity is supporting the need for early action concerning the current dental crisis in the UK, as well as the right of everyone who wants to access NHS dentistry, to be able to do so in a timely manner without the need to travel many miles.

The Oral Health Foundation also welcomes proposals for urgent and fundamental contract reform. The charity wants to see the implementation of a capitation-based system which is designed to help reduce dental inequalities, together with a more emphasis on the prevention of dental disease. 

“It is most frustrating that many of the issues around the NHS dental contract that have been laid bare in last week’s report were also identified in a Health Select Committee from 2008,” adds Dr Carter. “Despite many years of piloting and prototyping, the necessary changes to reform NHS dentistry have still not been implemented.  These are essential to many of the other proposals, including workforce expansion and retention.”

The Oral Health Foundation is joining calls for the urgent, early publication of the promised Recovery Plan for Dental Services by the government.

The charity is also backing the need for more clarity concerning patient’s rights in relation to NHS dentistry. This includes a greater clarity on the move towards less frequent dental recalls for patients with good oral hygiene and lower risk of dental disease.

Dr Carter says: “Our views on patient registration, have not changed since the last report in 2008.  Dental registration allows patients to be registered with their individual dentist, this helps to build loyalty between patient and dentist, a good rapport and a trusting relationship.  This will improve oral health and successful prevention measures.”

According to the Health Select Committee report: ‘The argument then was that “dental care is most effective when delivered over time and as part of a trusting dentist-patient relationship”… Professor Paul Batchelor, Honorary Clinical Professor at the University of Lancaster, who was a specialist adviser to our predecessor Committee, notes in his evidence that to achieve greater access and reduce inequalities, reform of the contract “should centre on capitation-based payments with long-term registration arrangements.”’

Amongst many other points raised by the recent report, the Oral Health Foundation is endorsing the urgent need for a dental workforce survey, the mandatory inclusion of dental representation on ICBs (Integrated Care Boards), and the speeding up of processes for potential overseas registrants. 

“Faith in NHS dentistry has been lost amongst the general public and the dental profession,” adds Dr Carter.

“We hope this report is the catalyst for campaigners such as ourselves, to add the necessary pressure on government to make the changes that are so badly needed. We will not allow the government to give up on NHS dentistry – it is an essential service that must be protected at any cost.”

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