Sunak pledges to ‘restore’ NHS dentistry

The Tory leadership hopeful vowed to address the ‘unprecedented pressure’ facing dentists as most NHS practices are not accepting new patients.

18 August 2022

Rishi Sunak has pledged to “restore” NHS dentistry by ringfencing its funding, strengthening prevention and encouraging dentists to stay in the health service.

The Tory leadership hopeful, who is lagging behind his rival Liz Truss in polls of voting Conservative Party members, vowed to address the “unprecedented pressure” dentistry is under if he becomes prime minister.

It comes after a recent survey found that the majority of NHS dental practices are unable to offer appointments to new adult patients.

As part of his five-point plan, Mr Sunak would strengthen the protections around the annual NHS dentistry budget and review dentists’ contracts to resolve problems that have caused them to shift to private work, his campaign said.

He would review recruitment policies that currently make it easier for dentists to join the private sector, and look at opportunities for upskilling dental nurses, therapists and hygienists.

In order to boost preventative measures, the former chancellor would also start a pilot on dentists visiting primary schools for check-ups.

Mr Sunak said: “NHS dentistry is under unprecedented pressure with people unable to get the treatment they need, leaving them in pain or forced to fork out thousands for private care.

“My five point plan will be activated on day one to free up dentistry professionals to do their jobs, encourage NHS trained dentists to stay in the NHS, and focus on prevention as that is always better than the cure.

“As prime minister, I’ll be focused on getting the British people more bang for our buck from our NHS.”

Earlier this month, an investigation by the British Dental Association (BDA) and BBC found nine out of 10 NHS practices across England were not accepting new adult patients, with eight out of 10 also not accepting new child patients.

BDA chairman Eddie Crouch said: “Whoever takes up the reins in Downing Street must act to end a crisis affecting millions, but we need deeds, not words.

“The constituents of both leadership contenders have next to no options. The same applies to families in every corner of this country.

“This can’t be another exercise in rearranging the deckchairs. Any progress will require real reform and fair funding.”

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