This morning, 20 Nov, the BBC released a story about the growing problem of accessing NHS dental service. The ADG have commented on this and the Chair, Neil Carmichael, has released the below statement:
“The struggle to find a dentist is now an everyday experience for millions of Britons, and one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS given rapidly rising tooth decay particularly amongst children. Whilst access has long been a problem, it’s now high time the Government takes firm action to fix the problem.
“Firstly, as a short-term solution, we need to reform how we recruit dentists from overseas. The current system is no longer fit for purpose, and despite the severe recruitment challenges faced by many communities, dentists and allied dental professionals have yet to be added to the Migration Advisory Committee shortage occupation list. This is a mistake and one that must be urgently addressed.
“Secondly, dental contracts and NHS commissioning must be reformed to better utilise a ‘skill mix’ delivery model – where allied dental professionals, such as dental therapists and hygienists, complete routine and preventative dental work, in line with their existing professional training. This change would increase the number of routine appointments available in communities across the country and significantly increase the ability of dental practices to deliver preventative dental care, keeping the nation’s teeth healthier for longer.
“Finally, access requirements will only be solved over the long-term by training more UK trained dentists. This will require a concerted effort by government and industry to promote the benefits of a dental career, and for commissioners and dental groups to work together to improve the employment experience of dentists undertaking NHS dental work. We must also look at how to attract more dental professionals to work in rural and coastal communities.
“After years of decline, NHS dentistry is increasingly facing a precipice whereby dental skills are lost and patients fail to seek preventative dental care due to access issues. This is storing up a time-bomb for the future and now requires urgent attention from the NHS, Government, and dental groups who have frontline experience.”