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Monday, April 15, 2024

Leading Dental CEO Calls for Comprehensive NHS Dentistry Reforms

The CEO of three top dental clinics in London is urging for significant reforms in NHS dentistry, asserting that the Government’s latest plans are insufficient.

NHS England’s recent announcement of the NHS Dental Recovery Plan, aimed at providing more dental appointments under the NHS, has reignited the conversation on improving NHS dental care access across England.

Dr Bharat Patel, the CEO of  Dental Care Centre, Dulwich Dental Office and Camden High Street Dental, is seeking more robust support for NHS dentists. He criticises the NHS Dental Recovery Plan as “more like a booster rather than fully-fledged reform,” noting that many of the proposed new measures are not new at all.

“NHS dentistry has been playing catch up well before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of all dental practices throughout the country, leaving patients without access to a NHS dentist,” Dr Patel stated.

He expressed concerns about the new plan and the current system, especially the treatment banding system that often puts dentists in a challenging position regarding patient care prioritisation.

To mitigate the shortage of NHS dentists in certain areas, the government is offering incentives and has proposed the use of Dental Vans in isolated communities.

“Incentivising dentists in areas where NHS dentists are sought is also nothing new and something the private sector has tried and failed to do for years,” Dr Patel remarked.

The government’s SMILE4LIFE programme aims to improve dental service access and promote oral health, with Dr Patel acknowledging the longstanding emphasis on preventive care in the dental profession.

He welcomes the initiative to increase dental university placements, viewing it as beneficial for the long-term health of the dental sector, and calls for a deep-seated overhaul of NHS dentistry to effect genuine enhancements in service access and quality.

“There is only so much an approach like the one proposed can improve services. If there is a genuine desire to keep NHS dentistry as a leading beacon within the UK and Europe it requires a matching investment that recognises that dentistry in practice is a surgery not akin to hospitals,” Dr Patel concluded.

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