Dame Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport, has welcomed the launch of the Conservative Government’s £200 million NHS Dentistry Recovery Plan.

The Covid pandemic meant that 40 million fewer courses of treatment were delivered during the years 2020-2022.

In June 2022 Caroline welcomed Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care, Maria Caulfield, to Gosport to discuss improving access to NHS dentistry locally. A number of local dentists and dental care representatives attended a roundtable event with the Minister, including Smile Dental Care Gosport, MyDentist Gosport and Fareham Road Surgery, as well as representatives from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Dental Committee.

Now the NHS Dental Recovery Plan, announced on Wednesday [7th February] sets out a package of measures to deliver 2.5 million additional NHS dental appointments across the country over the next 12 months.

In the longer term, around 240 dentists will be offered one-off payments of up to £20,000 for working in under-served areas for up to three years, helping to attract new NHS dentists and improve provision of care in areas with the highest demand.

Further measures include introducing a New Patient Premium payment to incentivise dentists to treat around a million new patients who have not seen an NHS dentist in two years or more.

To help improve access in the short term, new dental vans are being launched to help reach more isolated communities, including in rural and coastal areas.

The scheme will be introduced within weeks, ensuring that patients can benefit immediately.

The minimum value of activity will also increase from £23 to £28 and high-performing practices will be able to deliver extra work on top of their contracted activity, ensuring NHS work is more attractive to dental teams.

Expanded prevention care is also being rolled out for younger children to help reduce tooth decay and improve the nation’s oral health through the ‘Smile for Life’ programme.  Children at nursery and reception level will be offered vital preventative measures against tooth decay.

The Government will consult on wider reforms to the dental workforce and contract in 2024, taking the long-term decisions to ensure that dental services can be there for families for the years to come.

Commenting, Caroline said: “I understand the frustration of people in Gosport when they need to see a dentist but who, since the pandemic, have struggled to get an NHS appointment.

“In Gosport a third of adults and more than half of the children have accessed NHS dentistry in the last year, but there is still unmet need.

“I am therefore delighted that the Conservative Government has published its NHS Dental Recovery Plan, creating 2.5 million more NHS dental appointments over the next year – exceeding the pledges made by Labour by over a million appointments.”

Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins MP said: “Dentistry is a priority for this government. I know from my experience representing a rural and coastal constituency in Lincolnshire how frustrating it is for people who cannot get a dentist appointment, especially after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dentistry. We have seen big improvements over the past year, but now we are going much further.

“I’m determined to deliver faster, simpler and fairer access to NHS dentistry for patients and this plan will help anyone who has not been able to see a dentist in the past two years to do so.“

“The long term decisions we are taking will help ensure that good oral health is available to all, wherever you live and whatever your background.”