Our cross-party Health and Social Care Select Committee report on access to NHS dentistry was published this morning. It’s the conclusion of an inquiry we launched last December in response to growing concern over the difficulty of getting access to NHS dentists – something on which I’ve spoken several times in Parliament on behalf of constituents.
We’ve described evidence of pain and distress due to being unable to see an NHS dentist as ‘totally unacceptable in the 21st century’ and have called on the government to ensure that all who need it have access to an NHS dentist.
We’ve pointed to the current contract, which pays dentists for NHS ‘units of dental activity’ (UDAs), as not fit for purpose and slammed the Government’s failure to change it as the problems have become steadily worse over 15 years. We’ve said that the minor alterations last July have not solved the problem and that there must be urgent and fundamental reform of NHS dentistry if people are to receive the dental care to which they are entitled.
Our key recommendations to Government are:
- Ensure everyone who needs an NHS dentist is able to access one within a reasonable timeframe and a reasonable distance.
- Implement a fundamentally reformed dental contract to move away from current UDA system in favour of a system with a weighted capitation element, emphasising prevention and person-centred care.
- Commission a dental workforce survey to find out how many full-time and part-time-equivalent dentists, dental nurses, therapists and hygienists work in the NHS and how much NHS and private work they carry out.
- Roll-out a patient information campaign with aim of improving awareness of how NHS dentistry works and ensure the public are better informed about what they are entitled to.
- ICBs should be given clarity about flexibilities to commission NHS dental services and target resources according to the needs of their populations.
You can read the full report here