Association calls on the government for reforms

10 July 2024

The British Dental Association (BDA) says initial talks with the government have opened the door to a potential reform of NHS dentist’s contracts in England.

The BDA has stressed that the government's new policy - to regard the NHS as “broken” - could hold the key to bringing fundamental reform to the service. This follows the acceptance from Wes Streeting the secretary of state, on the damage caused by the current system.

The contract was dubbed “not fit for purpose” by the Health and Social Care Committee in its report published in July 2023. The report urged a fundamental break with the target-based system and a shift to a prevention- focused, patient-centred model of care. The BDA described their recommendations as an “instruction manual to save NHS dentistry”.

The BDA has called on the new government to set out both a short-term rescue package and longer-term reform of the service. The professional body has said a cost-neutral rescue plan - that puts huge underspends to work - could ensure hundreds of struggling NHS practices remain sustainable. This would be an interim measure while negotiations are concluded on fundamental reform of the NHS contract.

In January 2024, the Labour Party announced a plan to create 700,000 extra urgent dental appointments, a supervised toothbrushing programme, vape legislation, and promoting healthy diets if elected. The association says it is ready to work constructively with the government to deliver its commitment.

Shawn Charlwood, chair of the British Dental Association's General Dental Practice Committee said, “The first step to save NHS dentistry is admitting we have a problem. Wes Streeting has done so today. There is finally recognition that failed contracts and underfunding have fuelled the current crisis.

"We take absolutely nothing for granted, and will hold this government to account as we did the last. But there's now a chance to move forward, to rescue and reform a service millions depend on.”