Wanted: Dental Vans And Dental Workforce

Wanted: Dental Vans And Dental Workforce

Announcing their much awaited Dental Recovery Plan (DRP) earlier this year, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins together with the Minister with responsibility for Primary Care Andrea Leadsom positively enthused about the role dental vans were going to play in delivering dental services to remote country and coastal locations.

However, having announced the initiative, it seems the task of securing the vans and workforce to staff them may not be so easy.

According to the pre-procurement document published on 16th April, it’s now acknowledged that the government is all of a sudden ’aware of the limited availability of vans and workforce to deliver mobile dental services.’

The document continues ’ and so alongside the provision of vans and/or workforce we are exploring other options such as (but not limited to), the provision of non-van solutions, including the use of local facilities for pop-up services.’

The British Dental Association was coruscating. BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said "Every MP who boasted to constituents about these vans is going to have to wait on what ‘non-van solutions’ this Government can come up with.

“This is pure farce. The Prime Minister pledged to restore NHS dentistry. The reality is a plan with no new money, no ambition, and now there aren’t even any vans.”

The profession now waits to hear the result of the requested ’creative thinking’ and poured scorn on the suggestion that ’pop-up’ facilities were a way forward.  ’ The BDA is unclear if pop-up services would meet Care Quality Commission standards’ a statement said.

The challenge of procuring a van based delivery for remote areas is the third major embarrassment for the government’s DRP.  

Having initially claimed there was £200M of additional funding to provide 2.5M extra appointments, ministers were later forced to concede that the money came from a reallocation of underspend of existing budgets.

And as ministers sought to claim that over 500 practices had already signalled a willingness to see new NHS patients the BDA pointed out that this claim too was incorrect. All that had changed was the definition of ’access’.

’Previously practices would answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether they were taking new patients. They are now showing if they can take new patients ‘when availability allows’ the BDA said.

Image Credit BDA


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