NHS dentists feel left behind in budget plan
LONDON, UK: In a recent press release, the British Dental Association (BDA) lamented the budget’s failure to recognise the challenges facing dental services across England. Over 40 cross-party MPs have backed calls from both the BDA and Healthwatch England for the government to provide vital funding for the recovery and rebuilding of services.
Reform of the widely discredited operating model of the service was pledged by April 2022. Dentist leaders have expressed disbelief that no commitments have been made to provide the necessary resources to deal with backlogs and to underpin the transition to a new and sustainable model of care.
Over 35 million appointments have been lost in England since lockdown. However, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, funding was barely sufficient to cover half the population. The 50% business rates discount extended to the retail and hospitality sectors once again leaves high street dentists among the few businesses on the high street not receiving needed support.
Dr Eddie Crouch, chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, said: “MPs have recognised NHS dentistry is in the last chance saloon. Sadly the Chancellor has offered this service no help clearing the backlogs, no support for the rebuild and recovery, and no boost for public health. COVID busted an already failed system, but any reform plan is doomed without new investment. Any credible ‘levelling up’ agenda cannot ignore millions of patients with no hope of securing needed care.”
The BDA had joined with public health leaders in early October in a call for a reversal of savage cuts to local public health budgets. There are no indications that the Treasury is willing to change tack.