The NHS will provide patients with hundreds of thousands more dental appointments, thanks to a £50 million funding injection.
Funding will secure up to 350,000 additional dental appointments allowing people suffering from oral pain, disease, and infection to get the care they need, as services drive back to pre-pandemic levels.
Children, people with learning disabilities, autism, or severe mental health problems, will be prioritised as part of a dentistry treatment push over the coming months, with the one-off funding available until the end of the financial year.
Locally, NHS teams will use the funds to secure increase care capacity amongst local dentists already operating to help patients suffering from oral ill-health.
Dentists involved in the scheme will be paid more than a third on top of their normal sessional fee for delivering this care outside of core hours, such as early morning and weekend work.
Chief Dental Officer for England Sara Hurley said: “Dental services are a vital part of the NHS providing oral health care to all age groups, and that’s why we have taken this unprecedented action to boost NHS dental services.
“More than 600 urgent dental health hubs were rapidly ramped up during the pandemic to deliver urgent care for patients, and the NHS is now getting key services like dentistry back to pre-pandemic levels – injecting an extra £50 million into routine services will help provide check-ups and treatment for hundreds of thousands of people”.
During the pandemic, the NHS has protected dentists’ income when strict infection prevention control guidance meant dentists needed to operate at severely reduced capacity.
Infection prevention control measures were significantly eased in November 2021 and since the start of this year the NHS has required dental practices to operate at 85% of their pre-pandemic contracted activity, the latest stage in the return to pre-pandemic workloads for NHS dentists.
Minister for Primary Care Maria Caulfield said: “Access to NHS dentistry has been given a much needed boost with an extra £50 million announced for NHS dental care services which will urgently give more people access to vital dental care when they need it.
“Through the pandemic, we have prioritised urgent dental needs, vulnerable patients and free treatment for children and thanks to the hard work of staff, the delivery of urgent care is back to pre-pandemic levels. We are now working with the dental sector to recover and reform services and this £50 million boost will help with that recovery”.
The NHS in England invests £2.3 billion on dentistry every year.
NHS dentists continue to receive free personal protective equipment from the Department of Health and Social Care, and the government recently awarded NHS dental contractors an increase in pay along with other NHS staff and workers.
In March last year, the government asked NHS England and NHS Improvement to lead on the next stage of dental system reform to better support dentists and deliver better outcomes for patients. The NHS has published six aims of dental system reform which have been endorsed by the British Dental Association and the NHS continues to work with the sector to reform NHS dentistry.
Breakdown of funding by region:
- North West – £7,310,000
- North East and Yorkshire – £8,633,000
- Midlands – £8,904,000
- East of England – £5,731,000
- South West – £4,726,000
- South East – £6,887,000
- London – £7,809,000