Government announces measures to improve access to dental care

The government has announced a package of measures aimed at improving patient access to dental care.

From 28 November, NHS dentists will be entitled to fairer payments for delivering complex dental care with the intention to incentivise practices to take on high-needs patients.

Previous payments meant that dentists were paid the same for all band two treatments including fillings and tooth extractions, regardless of the time it took to deliver. This meant that they would be paid the same for doing three fillings as they would for doing one filling.

The new measures will take into account the time taken to do the work.

Health Minster Neil O’Brien said: "I am determined to make sure everybody seeking NHS dental care can receive it when they need it.

"Our new contract rewards dentists more fairly for taking on high needs patients and delivering treatments to those who need it most.

"It will not solve all the problems overnight, but it will help improve access and ensure the system supports dentists and their teams."

The new measures also mean that practices will have to regularly update information on the "Find a Dentist" tool on the NHS website, so that it accurately reflects available services.

Legislation will also be introduced which means that General Dental Council will have greater flexibility to amend the international registration process for overseas qualified dentists.

Louise Ansari, national director of Healthwatch England said: "Thousands of people have spoken up about their struggles accessing an NHS dentist over the last few years, telling us about dental practices in many regions either closing down or not accepting new NHS patients. This announcement shows the power of their voices, with government listening and taking action.

"The changes should help people find clear and up to date information on dentists taking on new NHS patients. While people with more complex dental problems will find it easier to access care because of the shift in how the NHS pays dentists. Ultimately, we hope these combined measures will help to reduce long waiting times, the extended periods of pain many people suffer and prevent the extreme cases of DIY dentistry we have seen.

"These changes are a good start and when put into practice can help ensure dental care that is accessible and affordable to everyone who needs it."


Image by JOSEPH SHOHMELIAN from Pixabay