Association responds to minister pledge for NHS dentistry reforms

24 January 2024

Following comments from Andrea Leadsom, secretary for health and social care, that a “big package of change” is coming for NHS dentistry, the British Dental Association (BDA) has warned there is still no sign the government has any intention of taking action that will boost access and halt the exodus from the workforce.

The government has repeatedly stated that “NHS dentistry should be accessible and available for all those who need it.” However, a Recovery Plan remains undelivered.

The Nuffield Trust warned last month the service faces the gravest crisis in its 75-year history, and universal access to care may be dead without radical reform and investment. The report states that “even with extensive contract reform and the full use of new groups of staff, restoring universal access would cost billions each year”.

The news follows recent reports of a surge in deaths from dental sepsis, fuelled by ongoing access problems. One clinician in the North of England reportedly described their local hospital as “like a battlefield” given the volume of cases.

Eddie Crouch, BDA Chair, said, "The government says there's going to be a 'big package' for NHS dentistry.

“Size really doesn't matter if the package is empty.

“Ministers keep offering big ambitions but have not set out any concrete plans capable of achieving them.”