Residents continue to contact us about the difficulties they have in finding an NHS Dentist and getting the treatment they need to maintain a healthy mouth and teeth. We have escalated our concerns locally in Sussex and nationally. Healthwatch England recently published insight to show NHS dentistry is in crisis.
Yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care release a letter to all NHS dental contract holders which updates on the NHS Dental Contract Reform and Arrangements. In this, there is a commitment to publish this Summer the results and lessons learnt from the dental contract reform prototypes, including the design and implementation challenges that prevent wider rollout beyond the current participating practices, in its current form.
NHS England will be leading on the next steps in this reform process and will be working with the British Dental Associate and government, to address the key challenges facing the delivery of NHS dentistry.
Contract changes must:
- Be designed with the support of the profession
- Improve oral health outcomes (or, where sufficient data are not yet available, credibly be on track to do so)
- Increase incentives to undertake preventive dentistry, prioritise evidence-based care for patients with the most needs and reduce incentives to deliver care that is of low clinical value
- Improve patient access to NHS care, with a specific focus on addressing inequalities, particularly deprivation and ethnicity
- Demonstrate that patients are not having to pay privately for dental care that was previously commissioned NHS dental care
- Be affordable within NHS resources made available by the Government, including taking account of dental charge income.
In the short term, regional NHS England commissioners now have a new flexible commissioning toolkit, that is intended to make it easier to target local dental priorities, using the flexibility that exists in the current contractual arrangements.
Local commissioners share with us where additional activity has been commissioned, and we continue to share your experiences of where access to an NHS dentist is a problem. Please keep sharing your dental experiences with us.