NHS dentistry 'recovery plan' a 'temporary filling' says Cumbrian MP

Patient at dentists
Tim Farron MP is pleased with plans to incentivise dentists in rural Cumbria but feels the plans do not go far enough. Credit: PA

There has been reaction from throughout Cumbria as the UK Government has announced plans to increase the amount of NHS dental appointments in England as part of their NHS Dental Recovery Plan.

Tim Farron MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale was pleased with the announcement but critical that it did not go far enough.

He said: "More money to incentivise dentists to take on NHS patients, especially in rural areas like ours is always welcome.

“However the British Dental Association, who I trust to know what dentists need far more than Conservative ministers, say that this 'recovery plan' is not worthy of the title and won't stop the mass exodus of staff leaving NHS dentistry."

The Dental Recovery Plan will see £200million of government funding given to dentists as part of a new patient payment which is hoped to incentivise dentists to treat patients who have not been seen by an NHS dentist in two years or more.

The dental plan aims to see an additional 2.5 million NHS dental appointments available for patients over the next 12 months.

The UK government says it want to "drive a major new focus on prevention and good oral health in young children and deliver an expanded dental workforce."

In a statement NHS England said: "To attract new NHS dentists and improve access to care in areas with the highest demand, around 240 dentists will be offered one-off payments of up to £20,000 for working in under-served areas for up to three years."

Mark Jenkinson MP has praised the UK Government's announcement. Credit: Houses of Parliament

Conservative MP for Workington Mark Jenkinson said: "Everyone should be able to access NHS dentistry quickly and easily, and I understand the frustration of people who struggle to get an NHS appointment – particularly as dentists forego NHS contracts for private work.

“I am therefore delighted that the Conservative Government has published its NHS Dental Recovery Plan, creating 2.5 million more NHS dental appointments over the next year – and I urge practices across the constituency to take up this new, and the existing, additional capacity.

“The Conservative Government is sticking to the plan to deliver immediate and long-term change to improve access to NHS dentistry. Our ambitious commitments far exceed the pledges made by Labour and will ensure that everyone can access the right care and stay healthy for years to come.”

“Dentistry is a priority for this government. I know from my experience representing a rural and coastal constituency in how frustrating it is for people who cannot get a dentist appointment, especially after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dentistry."

Tim Farron MP added: “The £200m announced today is a drop in the ocean compared to the £1bn has been cut in real terms from NHS dentistry by the Conservatives since they came to power.

Tim Farron MP believes the announcement won't solve the dental crisis. Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Images

“There was a big build up to this announcement but unfortunately it looks to be another temporary filling which will not fix the rotting tooth.

“I think it's a kick in the teeth for the many people across Cumbria who cannot see an NHS dentist in our county and are therefore being left with two choices - 100 mile round trips to see an NHS dentist, or pay for private treatment in the middle of a cost of living crisis.”

Under the new plans the public can also see which dentists are accepting NHS patients in their local area.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “COVID-19 has significantly impacted NHS dental care, and teams across the country are working hard to recover services and meet rising demand.

“Building on the reforms we have already implemented, the health service will now introduce a wide range of practical measures to help make it easier for people to see a dentist, from incentivising dentists to take on new patients to supporting dentists to be part of the NHS in areas where access is challenging.

“Recovering dentistry is a priority for the NHS and this plan is a significant step towards transforming NHS dental services for the better.”

Eddie Crouch, Chair of the British Dental Association (BDA) said that it was "completely shocking" that people had to queue on the streets in order to get NHS dental access.

"We've seen a decade of neglect with the NHS dental service. We believe it is one area of the NHS which has seen a net reduction of around £1 billion than ten years ago," Crouch said.

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