Dr Ed Garratt, from the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System (ICS), has spoken on the challenges patients face in trying to secure NHS dental care, declaring it “the biggest issue for our communities”.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has said that the set up of NHS contracts are not attractive enough for surgeries to offer NHS provision – perhaps this is why a recent meeting with East Suffolk Council's scrutiny committee found dentist posts were routinely taking two or more years to fill in Suffolk.
Attention has been drawn to the issue as a result of Toothless in Suffolk’s recent campaigning, which included a march in Bury St Edmunds.
The BBC has reported that that “Plans have been announced for the commissioning of dental services to move from NHS England to a local ICS - a partnership of health commissioners and providers.
The broadcaster also shared that, “At last week's health and wellbeing board, Dr Garratt, said the responsibility for commissioning dentistry would move within the next year or 18 months so they would then have ‘a lot more local control’.
"But I think it has become the biggest issue for our communities, so we are absolutely going to do everything we can to improve the situation," he said.
"I am pretty ashamed of it at the moment, it needs to improve."
In repose, the British Dental Association has tweeted, “A rare but welcome admission from officials in the East of England. Pretending NHS dentistry was in any way for fit for purpose before COVID struck does a profound disservice to the millions struggling to access care & thousands of dedicated dentists.”
Meanwhile, Eddie Crouch, chair of the BDA tweeted, “Procuring time limited contracts that are based on UDAs will not solve your problems.”