- Published: Tuesday, 06 February 2024 22:00
- Written by Guy Tuggle
- Hits: 2069
The Dental Recovery Plan (DRP) will be announced today and as expected, it will incentivise dentists to work in areas of highest need and others to take on new NHS patients.
Ministers hope the Plan will create an additional 1.5M NHS dental appointments.
A copy of the DRP was mistakenly mailed to MPs of all parties on Tuesday and, not surprisingly, soon found its way to the BBC who divulged some of its key proposals.
The Plan is offering a ’Golden Hello’ worth £20,000 to up to 240 dentists in return for a commitment to work for three years in areas known as ’dental deserts’.
An additional £15 will be paid to dentists for seeing new patients, defined as those who ‘have not seen a dentist for over two years’. And where a new patient requires complex treatment, a payment of up to £50 is understood to apply.
The Plan recognises the parlous state of childrens’ teeth in many of the country’s deprived areas and contains measures to start addressing these.
Mobile dental teams armed with fluoride varnish will be sent into selected schools, and children in nurseries and at junior school Reception classes will receive oral health coaching.
Minimum UDA value
The minumum UDA value to be increased from £23 to £28 but the timescale for this is not yet clear.
Too Little, Too Late?
Critics are not be short of ammunition as crucially, there is no wholesale contract reform - yet.
"There is nothing in the Plan to draw dentists back into NHS dentistry to enhance workforce capacity" a British Dental Association statement said.
Professor Claire Stevens CBE, British Society of Paediatric Dentistry Spokesperson said: “This long-awaited plan includes some measures to tackle the crisis in children’s oral health. However, we cannot see a plan to review and revise the dental contract which is central to kick-starting the UK dental recovery.
Is this the ‘elephant-in-the-room’? For too long we have had podium announcements which sound good, but are actually unworkable on the ground."
Professor Stevens added “We need to ensure the funding is put to good use and supports the dental health workforce with a contract that works. In the run up to an election, we want to feel confident that these initiatives won’t just be shelved once the focus is off getting votes.”
As expected, politicians wasted no time in commenting on the Plan. Labour has seen two of its key policies - supervised brushing in schools and bonuses paid to dentists willing to work in dentals deserts - effectively hijacked.
Shadow Health & Social Care Secretary Wes Streeting told the BBC: "After 14 years of Conservative neglect, patients are desperately queuing around the block to see a dentist, literally pulling their own teeth out, and tooth decay is the number one reason for 6-10 year-olds being admitted to hospital.
"The Conservatives are only promising to do something about it now there’s an election coming. By adopting Labour’s proposals for recruitment and supervised toothbrushing, they are finally admitting that they are out of ideas of their own."
For the LibDems, their Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said “The image of hundreds of desperate people queuing outside a new dentist in Bristol tells you everything you need to know about the state of dental practices in this country.
“This plan comes too little too late for those left waiting in pain for dental care or the children admitted to hospital for tooth decay. With over 12 million waiting for help, this pledge to help just one million is a drop in the ocean and shows the Government isn’t serious."
BDA - ’Rearranging Deckchairs’
Chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee Shawn Charlwood, was not impressed. He said: “This ‘Recovery Plan’ is not worthy of the title.
“It won’t halt the exodus from the workforce or offer hope to millions struggling to access care. Nothing here meets the government’s stated ambitions, or makes this service fit for the future.
“Ministers wanted to stop dentistry becoming an election issue. By rearranging the deckchairs they’ve achieved the exact opposite.”Some reactions on X.com:
GREAT to see the NHS dentistry plan out. I particularly like:— Neil O’Brien MP (@NeilDotObrien) February 7, 2024
- Extra £200m
- New patient bonus (worked in Manchester)
- Increased minimum UDA (tackles random unfairness)
- Measures to get more NHS dentists into areas with too few (many non-urban areas) https://t.co/VpE6WDXkBp
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