Our plan to recover and reform NHS dentistry

Classification: Official
Publication reference: PRN01129


  • Dental contractors
  • Dental commissioners
  • Integrated care board (ICB) heads of primary care
  • ICB chief executives


  • Regional directors of primary care
  • NHS England regional directors

Dear colleagues,

Our plan to recover and reform NHS dentistry

Today, we have published the joint NHS and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) plan to recover and reform NHS dentistry.

NHS dentistry has been under pressure for some time. NHS dental teams have been working hard to meet rising demand and although we have seen steady improvements in access, we know we need to do more.

The changes we have announced today build on the first reforms to the dental contract in 15 years that we announced in July 2022 and this plan is an important next step in improving patient access to NHS dental care and supporting dental services to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity. 

Measures include:

  • NHS dentists will be given a ‘new patient’ payment of between £15-£50 (depending on treatment need) to treat patients who have not seen an NHS dentist in two years or more. This will begin from March 2024 and is time limited to end of financial year 2024/2025.
  • targeted funding to encourage dentists to work in areas which historically have been difficult to recruit to
  • a further increase in the minimum indicative UDA value from the £23 announced in July 2022 to £28 from April 2024
  • improving access in underserved areas through the use of dental vans

In addition to these activities, the plan announces a range of government-delivered public health initiatives to improve the oral health of children and recommits to the workforce growth and development outlined in the Long Term Workforce Plan.

For the first time ever, a water fluoridation programme will be rolled out by government, which could reduce the number of tooth extractions due to decay in the most deprived areas of the country. Subject to consultation, the programme would enable an additional 1.6 million people to benefit from water fluoridation, first expanding across the North East.

We will work closely with ICB and primary care colleagues on the delivery of the commitments set out in this plan and will shortly communicate further information on the next steps required on implementation. We expect to publish guidance and next steps for ICBs and contractors on the New Patient Premium within the next week as there are some key time sensitive actions which need to be taken to ensure smooth implementation from 1 March 2024.

Recovering dentistry is a priority for the NHS and this plan is an important step towards transforming NHS dental services for the better

Thank you for your ongoing effort and support.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to improve access to dentistry for our patients.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Amanda Doyle OBE, MRCGP, National Director for Primary Care and Community Services, NHS England.

Dr Jason Wong MBE, BDS DPDS FCGDent, Chief Dental Officer England (Interim).