Up to 2.5 million additional dental appointments could be opened up over the next 12 months, including up to 1.5 million extra treatments being delivered, NHS England has promised.
Under the new NHS Dental Recovery Plan (7 February), NHS dentists will be given a ‘new patient’ payment of between £15-£50 to treat patients who have not seen an NHS dentist in two years or more.
The plans – supported by £200m of Government funding – will also see around 240 dentists will be offered one-off payments of up to £20,000 for working in under-served areas for up to three years.
The minimum value of activity will also increase from £23 to £28.
NHS England’s plan also addresses gaps in overage in rural and coastal areas, suggesting it will launch ‘dental vans’ to reach more isolated communities.
It comes after British Dental Association (BDA) analysis found that spending on NHS dentistry has fallen by more than a third in real terms since 2010, marking a real cut of £1bn.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: ‘Building on the reforms we have already implemented, the health service will now introduce a wide range of practical measures to help make it easier for people to see a dentist, from incentivising dentists to take on new patients to supporting dentists to be part of the NHS in areas where access is challenging.
‘Recovering dentistry is a priority for the NHS and this plan is a significant step towards transforming NHS dental services for the better.’
Interim chief dental officer for England Jason Wong MBE said: ‘Two years ago the NHS implemented the first reforms to dentistry in 16 years and this plan will now build on that work to ensure that one and half million additional dental treatments will be offered to patients next year.
‘Good oral health remains essential for good general health, and this package of measures will ensure more patients can access NHS dental services while better supporting dental teams across the country to provide high-quality care.’
Analysis shared in January by the Liberal Democrats revealed that more than 100,000 children have been hospitalised since 2018 for rotting teeth.
In December, the Government confirmed it will not force ICBs to appoint a dentist to their board, stating that it is already possible ‘where they deem [it] necessary’.
In September, analysis indicated 4.4 million children were not seen by an NHS dentist in the last 12 months.