Budget Boost Expected For Rural Dentists

Budget Boost Expected For Rural Dentists

Dental practices in rural areas are poised for a ’major funding increase’ when Jeremy Hunt stands up to deliver what will be his party’s pre-election budget in six weeks time.

As has been widely reported across the media, access to dental services in rural areas has been at crisis point for many years and MP’s admit that the issue looms large in their postbags. 

Former Prime Minister, Liz Truss, who during her leadership hustings pledged that "fixing GP and dental access would be among the top three priorities for my first 90 days in office"  last week said that dentistry was the No 1 issue in her mailbag.

Most rural areas in England are represented by Conservative MPs and the branding of these areas as ’dental deserts’ by opposition Labour and LibDem MPs has cut through to make NHS dental access an especially toxic doorstep issue.

According to The Telegraph, Conservative MPs have ’privately pushed No 10 to provide more funding’.

The Telegraph says that the investment being earmarked for the rural areas is ’likely to cost hundreds of millions of pounds’ although there are no hints as to where the money will come from, how it will be allocated or prioritised at the point of use. 

And the paper added that Rishi Sunak ’wants to look at the trend of dentists being trained at taxpayer’s expense in the NHS and then quitting and going private’.

The Telegraph has long been recognised as the ’house magazine’ of the Conservative Party and it enjoys close links with senior ministers. 

’A Whitehall insider familiar with the policy development’ is thought to be behind the leaking of the government’s volte face.

Labour MP for City of Durham Central Mary Kelly Foy sees the move as a cynical ploy by government politicians. "As we witness NHS Dentistry dying before our eyes, the Government only wants to act as they see it becoming an election issue.  If the Tories invest as this suggests, millions of people will not see a penny of it."

John Milne’s scepticism matched Foy’s cynicism.  The National Dental Advisor to the CQC who last year became President of the British Dental Association tweeted "Not a penny of this is likely to reach Normanton, Pontefract or Castleford. Or the 100s of 1000s in towns and cities across Yorkshire".

Woodford dentist and Head of Indemnity at the BDA  Len D’Cruz said "If this is just about chasing votes in rural seats, hundreds of thousands of NHS patients and practices across London will lose out - time is running out for NHS dentistry".

Also unimpressed was the Chair of the British Dental Association, Eddie Crouch, who pointed out that the crisis is not confined to rural areas.

 "NHS dentistry faces a national crisis.  The Govt looks set to ignore urban dental deserts whilst chasing rural votes. No patient should be left behind".

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