Dentists greets call for government to set out plan to restore services

The British Dental Association has welcomed calls from the Commons Health and Social Care Committee for NHS England to set out next steps to ensure dental services can be developed to meet patient demand.

In evidence to the Committee earlier this year the BDA had described services under lockdown as "virtually non-existent" and stressed the existential threat to services going forward.

Official data indicates activity in the network of Urgent Dental Care Centres during lockdown fell to as low as 2% of normal levels for NHS dental services in England. While routine care resumed on 8 June, most practices are operating at low capacity, and continue to face an uncertain future given higher costs, restrictions on practise and lower patient numbers.

The BDA has welcomed Chair Jeremy Hunt's pledge to reopen the Committee's inquiry into dentistry that was abruptly closed by December’s snap General Election. The BDA has said it is now essential to tackle the failed systems and funding problems that have dogged services in England for over a decade.

Newly elected BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:

Dentistry effectively ceased to exist under lockdown, and we are still a long way from normal service levels.

Access remains a huge challenge for millions, so it's only right that officials show they appreciate the challenges we now face. There is an opportunity here to work with the profession to develop a plan that meets patient needs for years to come and moves us away from a discredited system.

Sticking plaster policies will not get us through this. We need a real willingness to move on from over a decade of failed contracts and underinvestment.