Government must face up to the workforce challenge to stop “dental deserts” in England

Neil Carmichael, Chair of the ADG has responded to the Healthwatch England report on dentistry yesterday and this morning’s debate in the House of Commons on oral health and dentistry in England:

“The two debates being held today in the House of Commons demonstrate that MPs from Bedford to Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight to Waveney know from their mailbags that many of their constituents still cannot get access to NHS care in a timely manner.  Research by Public Health England and others confirms that these “dental deserts” are often in the most vulnerable and deprived communities.”

It was heartening to see the Opposition spokesman and Minister agree on the need for dental contract reform at pace. Many in the profession recognise that the Minister is committed to reforming the dental contract through flexible commissioning and we are ready to work with her to achieve this.

“However the Government must also face up to the challenge to recruit more dentists including those from overseas. As the minister  said in the debate there are “dental deserts” in parts of England, and more practitioners are required with an “army style” recruitment strategy from Government to fill the vacancies in areas of greatest need.”

“I hope Healthwatch England’s report published yesterday will now focus the Government’s mind on the urgent need to reform NHS dentistry and address the recruitment crisis we now see emerging in many parts of the country.”

Healthwatch England’s report is published here

Public Health England’s report on Inequalities in Oral Health in England is here