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Government will not force dentists on to ICBs

Government will not force dentists on to ICBs
By Jess Hacker
14 December 2023

The Government will not force ICBs to appoint a dentist to their board, stating that it is already possible ‘where they deem [it] necessary’.

Earlier this year, MPs had called on the Government to ensure dentists are in-post on the boards to inform decision-making on contracting and flexible commissioning.

But in the Government’s response to the Health and Social Care Committee’s recommendation, it stated ‘all ICBs are already free to include representation from the dental profession’.

It added that ‘most ICBs have used this discretion’ based on their local area’s needs and that it would continue to work closely with NHS England ‘to ensure that the current arrangements are working’.

British Dental Association chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘The Government claim they want access for all but appear unwilling to make any commitments that could actually achieve that. If Minsters won’t fix a failed contract NHS dentistry will remain built on sand, and risks being swept away.

We’ve heard big ambitions but no action, and our patients will continue paying the price.’

In its response, published 13 December, the Government fully accepted the majority of the Committee’s recommendation, including:

  • Producing a timeline and means for delivering on their ambition to ensure everyone has access to an NHS dentist
  • Rolling-out a patient information campaign to improve awareness of NHS dentistry services
  • Ensuring practices abide by NICE recall guidelines of up to two years for most adult patients
  • Funding for NHS dentistry should be permanently ringfenced
  • To commission a dental workforce survey
  • To improve the routine data that is collected on the number of NHS dentists and the wider dental team
  • Ensuring the reformed contract ensures that full use is made of the skills of the whole dental team
  • Clearing the backlog of applications for the Overseas Registration Exam in a timely manner
  • Providing evidence of effectiveness of initiatives outlined by the Chief Dental Officer
  • Clarify to ICBs about what flexibilities they have with regard to commissioning NHS dental services.

The Government rejected the recommendation to reinstate the requirement for patients to be registered with an NHS dentist, and only partially accepted a number of recommendations.

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