'Stop The Spin!' BDA Urges Sunak

’Stop The Spin!’ BDA Urges Sunak

Dental teams, to say nothing of the millions of patients locked out of it, must wonder what world government spokespeople, from the PM down, inhabit when challenged about the parlous state of NHS dentistry.

With seemingly scant regard for facts, some MPs are still trotting out the ’£50M of extra investment’ in dental services when it’s long been in the public domain that only 30% of this amount was ever spent in the tight window of opportunity afforded to it early last year.

And at PMQs last week, Rishi Sunak once again declared that there were ’500 new dentists working in the NHS’.  Lies, damn lies and statistics Mr Sunak.  The truth is that over 1795 dentists have left the service since lockdown and the drift away is continuing as practice owners and clinicians finally call time on the NHS and its failed contract. 

"The government needs to drop any pretence that NHS dentistry is on the road to recovery and to deliver a much-needed rescue package, alongside a pledge for reform of the contract" says the British Dental Association (BDA).

Incensed by official data, which reveals that just 23,577 dentists performed NHS work in the 2022/23 financial year, the BDA has repeatedly called out the Prime Ministers’ claims that government reforms have boosted dentist numbers. 

It was recently disclosed to the Inquiry into NHS Dental Access by the Health & Social Care Committee that, ’dentist numbers’ are no indicator to service delivery.  The GDC’s Chief Executive Ian Brack told the committee that he could tell them how many dentists were on the GDC Register, but not how much they worked. 

To talk of ’dentist numbers’ as a panacea is simply disingenuous without reference to key performance indicators. Analysis of UDA delivery per performer by the BDA has exposed the reality that over 500 registrants are only doing one UDA a year. 

’The government needs to use the record-breaking underspends in the dental budget to bring a degree of sustainability to practices on the brink’ says the BDA.

"Government needs to drop the spin, accept the facts, and provide a rescue package to keep this service afloat" says GDPC Chair Shawn Charlwood.

"We face an access crisis, and with hundreds of millions set to be pulled away, funds must be put to work solving these problems."

According to the BDA, ’The money is already there. We estimated that funds returned by practices not hitting their contractual targets will likely exceed £400m this year, or over 10% of the total NHS budget.  That’s likely a very conservative estimate.

A higher minimum Unit of Dental Activity (UDA) value could bring all practices in line with areas with the strongest access levels, give them the chance to fill vacancies, support retention and operate more sustainably in the face of soaring costs – these costs could be kept within the anticipated levels of clawback for last year.

Wholesale reform remains the goal, but if the coming recovery plan is to have any meaning it must be ambitious and provide real support.’

Image Credit -CC license


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