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Only 1% of dentists believe the recovery plan will deliver on promises, survey finds

Only 1% of dentists believe the recovery plan will deliver on promises, survey finds
By Beth Gault
20 March 2024

Almost no dentists believe that the dental recovery plan will enable all patients who need NHS care to access it, a survey by the British Dental Association (BDA) has found.

Just 3% of the 100 dentist respondents said the plan would keep them providing NHS care in the long term, while 3% think it will result in them seeing more NHS patients and almost half believe it will lead to practices seeing fewer patients.

The results were revealed yesterday to the health and social care committee in an evidence session on the dental recovery plan, which was published in February and committed to providing up to 2.5 million additional dental appointments over the next 12 months.

Chair of the BDA’s General Dental Practice Committee (GDPC), Shawn Charlwood, told MPs they were ‘taken aback by how brutal the feedback was’ from their members.

‘Government has told this committee that its objective is to provide NHS care to all who need it,’ he said. ‘We asked dentists if they thought the plan was capable of keeping that promise. 1% agreed. One in 100 respondents thought that this plan could deliver on this promise.’

He added that they asked members to sum up the plan in their own words, not offering any prompts.

‘What we got was unambiguous cold fury from colleagues who have given up hope, frankly of change,’ said Mr Charlwood.  

‘I read the words too little too late over 100 times in the responses. We counted the phrases used most often, they were: not fit for purpose, dishonest, inadequate, rubbish and a joke.’

He also said the plan had pushed ‘meaningful’ contract reform much further down the line.

‘Legitimate contract reform is the only thing that will save this service,’ he added.

Speaking in the committee’s second evidence session, minister for public health, start for life and primary care, Andrea Leadsom MP, said the government was aiming for contract reform in 2025.

She would not ‘second guess’ whether unit of dental activity would be cut from the contract but stated her ambition to see much easier access to check-ups.

‘One of the things we’re doing in parallel is bringing forward a statutory instrument to enable dental therapists to do much more work to free up the capacity of dentists and to enable dental therapists to go into school and brush teeth with fluoride varnish, do dental check ups and give oral health advice,’ she said.

‘I think there could be a role for UDAs but where more complex cases are concerned it will be the case that we will want to look at other systems.’

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