The British Dental Association (BDA) greeted the show of unity from MPs on October 20, 2022, regarding fixing the NHS dental service but lamented the government’s failure to commit to reforms.
Members backed a cross-party motion calling on the government to set out an action plan to address the access and workforce crises in NHS dentistry, and to report back to parliament on progress in three months.
The government did not outline any steps for service and revisited minor 'tweaks' to the discredited NHS contract announced before the summer recess, which had no new funding attached. The BDA believe these changes – most of which are yet to take effect - will do nothing to improve access or halt the exodus of dentists from the NHS.
MPs joined the BDA’s call for a decisive break from the failed contract, underpinned by sustainable investment. Dentist leaders issued an open letter to the new Chancellor following his recent emergency statement, stressing that without investment in the service a reform process could fail. They also stressed that 'efficiency savings' could have a negative effect on public access to dental care.
The NHS contract was recently dubbed by Parliament's Health and Social Care Committee as “not fit for purpose”.
Shawn Charlwood, chair of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice Committee said, “MPs on both sides of the House have recognised the urgency here, but the government has yet to wake up.
“Quick fixes and tinkering at the margins won’t save NHS dentistry. Our patients need to see fair funding and real reform. Any further cuts will condemn this service to oblivion.”