Fundamental reform of NHS dentistry needed to end a ‘crisis of access’
14 July 2023
Health and Social Care Committee describes evidence of pain and distress due to being unable to see an NHS dentist as ‘totally unacceptable in the 21st century’.
- Read the report summary
- Read the full report
- Read all publications related to this inquiry, including oral and written evidence
Urgent and fundamental reform of NHS dentistry is needed if people are to receive the dental care they are entitled to. MPs cite frustration that recommendations for reform made by their predecessor Committee 15 years ago have still not been implemented. They brand the current contract, which pays dentists for NHS ‘units of dental activity’ (UDAs), as not fit for purpose.
The Report finds common misconceptions among the public about entitlement to NHS dental services and calls for action to address this. MPs endorse comments given by the Health Minister Neil O’Brien in evidence that it was the Government’s ambition to ensure that everyone who needs an NHS dentist can access one. The Committee calls for the Government to set out urgently how it intends to reform the dental contract to deliver on the ambition expressed by its Minister.
Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee Steve Brine MP said:
“Rarely has an inquiry been more necessary than this one. To hear of someone in such pain and distress that they resorted to using pliers to extract their teeth demonstrates the crisis in NHS dental services. The problem is compounded by people being unaware of what they’re entitled to and a contract that is unfit for purpose when it comes to paying dentists for treating NHS patients. Today we register in the strongest terms possible our concern for the future of NHS dental services and the patients who desperately need access to them.
“Declining levels of NHS dentistry activity should have been sounding alarm bells, as should a projected budget underspend of £400 million.
“What’s particularly frustrating is that recommendations made by our predecessor Committee 15 years ago to reform the dental contract have still not been implemented. Yet contract reform alone is unlikely to bring back dentists who have already left the NHS or are considering leaving in the near future.
“We endorse the Government’s ambition to ensure that everyone who needs an NHS dentist can access one. Belatedly, now is the time to deliver it.”
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