With Health Secretary Sajid Javid now confirmed to be staying in post following the reshuffle, the British Dental Association have issued an open letter, seeking assurances on how the £36 billion recently committed to the NHS will be used to support the recovery of dental services across primary and secondary care.
The boost, funded by the new Health and Social Care Levy, was described by the Prime Minister as the “biggest catch-up programme in the NHS’s history”.
Yesterday the Prime Minister told the House of Commons he recognised the need to ‘fix’ NHS dentistry, stating that “we want the NHS to be a better place for the dental profession.” In the letter, the BDA stress their commitment to work with Ministers to achieve the PM’s objective.
Dental leaders are seeking clarity on the proportion of new money will be allocated to help tackle the unprecedented backlog of dental care, and enable dentists to continue to provide NHS care in the years ahead. England remains the only UK nation not to commit any capital funding for ventilation improvements to enable a safe increase in patient numbers.
Oral health inequalities are now set to widen owing to the suspension of public health programmes, and ongoing access problems. Over 30 million appointments have been lost in high street services since the first lockdown in England alone. Recently published NHS Dental Statistics indicate the proportion of children seen by an NHS dentist in the last 12 months fell from 59% in March 2020 to just 23% in March 2021.
Copies of the message have been sent to the dentistry Minister Jo Churchill MP, as well Sir James Mackey, who has recently been appointed to advise on clearing the enormous backlog of elective surgery that has built up over the past 18 months – including dental procedures under general anaesthetic, where patients already faced year-long waiting times prior to COVID.
The letter is available here: https://bda.org/advice/Coronavirus/Documents/letter-from-bda-to-sajid-javid-sep-21.pdf