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NHS Dentistry: No turning back to broken system in Wales


  Posted by: The Probe      1st July 2021

The British Dental Association Cymru has lauded the statement today from Baroness Morgan, which indicates there will be no return to the ‘failed system’ NHS dentistry operated to prior to Covid.

The widely discredited target-based contract for high street dentistry, in operation since 2006, was effectively suspended at the onset of lockdown. It capped patient numbers, failed to reward preventive work, and fuelled both access problems and a collapse in morale among the profession.

The Minister has pledged to ensure that all the gains experienced within the variation to the General Dental Services contract will be preserved as Wales moves out of the pandemic recovery of NHS dentistry.  

An evolutionary approach to reform has been working well under the leadership of the Chief Dental Officer Dr Colette Bridgman, and the BDA sees this partnership with dental branch continuing as it heads towards the next phase of contract reform in April 2022.  

Dr Bridgman retires this month, and she has ensured that continuity plans are in place until her successor is appointed. The BDA has stressed its commitment to work with the new CDO to ensure that the profession is fully consulted every step of the way towards a reformed NHS contract that works for the profession and patients.

Access to NHS dental services faced crisis prior to the pandemic. Back in 2012, 37% of practices in Wales were accepting new NHS patients, but by 2019 fewer than 16% were able to take on new adults. 

Russell Gidney, Chair of the BDA’s Welsh General Dental Practice Committee, said: “This is welcome news for families across Wales. It means there will be no turning back to a failed system that put government targets ahead of patient care. In Wales at least we are assured that the mantra of build back better is actually being applied to our health services.” 

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