Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Chair Comment: Reform of dental contract ‘missing piece’ from government recovery plan

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Steve Brine MP yesterday responded to the publication of the government’s Plan to Recover and Reform NHS Dentistry.

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Chair's comment

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Steve Brine MP yesterday said:

“We welcome the plan’s focus on prevention and a short-term recovery of NHS dental services, particularly new patient payments, mobile vans and toothbrushing for the early years. However, our report urged the government to implement a fundamentally reformed dental contract which would move away from the current payments system to one which rewards dentists for the work they do, rather than increasing payments but keeping the same system in place. Without a truly reformed contract, the crisis of access to NHS dentistry which has seen people resort to removing their own teeth is unlikely to be resolved.

“The key concern for people struggling to find a dentist is when the current plan will open up new appointments ensuring an increase in appointments and that must remain the focus for Ministers.

“The British Dental Association described our report as ‘an instruction manual to save NHS dentistry’ but achieving that means putting all the pieces together in the right order. The missing piece is dental contract reform. Dental recovery also needs a permanent ring-fence for dental budgets plus a wider package to entice professionals to return to NHS dentistry.

“It is late in the day for Ministers to ‘expect’ to develop options for longer-term reforms of the dental contract and with the earliest changes not expected until 2025, far too late for dentists who are planning to leave in the next 12 months.

“Our committee looks forward to examining the recovery plan in detail with the Dental Minister in the coming weeks.”

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