Dentistry Prepares For Further Parliamentary Examination – Save The Date!

Dentistry Prepares For Further Parliamentary Examination – Save The Date!

Guy Tuggle looks forward to this week’s star-studded line-up of stars billed to appear at the Health & Social Care Committee’s second hearing of oral evidence.

Save the date!  On Tuesday 25th April at 13.30 the Health and Social Care Committee will reconvene to hear a second round of oral evidence from a panel of guests invited to inform it why MPs receive so many missives from angry patients unable to access NHS dentistry and why so many dentists are walking away from NHS contracts.

The hearing, which will be held in Room 6 at the House of Commons, is open to the public and profession alike, and will be screened live on Parliament TV. It should be available to view for 24 hours following transmission.

GDPUK readers who are not distracted by the inconvenience of patients requiring UL6 RCTs or denture impressions may watch proceedings at or, if earning a crust or helping a patient takes priority, enjoy the show après work.

The curtain will lift at 13.30 when Chris McCann, Director of Communications, Campaigns and Impact at Healthwatch England and Sarah Fletcher C E O at Healthwatch Lincolnshire (one of, if not ‘the’ UK’s most arid dental deserts) share their thoughts and answer questions.  It promises to be a discordant duo.

Healthwatch groups have been inundated with complaints from members of the public, many  desperate to access NHS dental services.  The organisation, via its regional branches, has  submitted a wave of material to the written stage of the inquiry.

Expect some no holds barred disclosures revealing the anguish faced by so many complainants who’ve paid taxes for a service they can’t access and desperately need.

To follow Healthwatch’s depressing overture, the main work is likely to be an ‘Interrogation in C Minor’.  Commencing after a short interval at at 14.15hrs, it stars Neil O’Brien MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Primary Care and Public Health at Department of Health and Social Care, Sara Hurley, Chief Dental Officer at NHS England and Dr Amanda Doyle, National Director for Primary Care and Community Services at NHS England.

Questioning is likely to be courteous but pointed.  Expect polished excuses from the Minister and the trotting out of all too familiar and well worn platitudes….”extra funding was made available, Covid, extra UDAs for more complex treatments, working with the BDA, making it easier for foreign dentists blah blah blah”.

How the CDO will respond to interrogation will be closely watched by the profession. 

Regular e-mail communications from the CDO and her managers to dental teams have made no reference - other than during lockdown - to the access crisis or what practices could, or ‘should’ be doing to help those with real need to receive help. It’s as if the problem wasn’t even on the radar.

It was only during the lockdown that Sara Hurley did make it clear that NHS contract holding practices were expected to see or assist any person who presented in pain,  whether or not they were already known to the practice. This was suddenly (and rightly some may argue) a ‘contractual clause’.

GDPUK will be watching the inquiry. As will many other interested parties.  Expect robust comment from the BDA.  We will report on proceedings and share out thoughts.  We’d also like you to share your hopes and post hearing, thoughts. 

What would YOU like to ask the panel on April 25th?

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