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Toothless in England campaigners have today made an impassioned plea to the Government to ‘declare a state of dental emergency’

Campaigners say they will continue to engage with the Government for ‘as long as it takes’ over plans to reform dental provision.

Mark Jones, founder of the campaign group, Toothless in England, today attended a meeting at the Department of Health and Social Care, chaired by Andrea Leadsom MP, the government’s dental minister.

He called on the government to declare a 'Dental Emergency' at the meeting - which discussed reaction to and the implementation of the government's 'Our plan to recover and reform NHS dentistry', published on February 7 this year.

Mark Jones, campaign co-ordinator for Toothless in England and Toothless in Suffolk. Picture: Mark Westley
Mark Jones, campaign co-ordinator for Toothless in England and Toothless in Suffolk. Picture: Mark Westley

He said campaigners would be ‘engaging’ with the government for it to ‘deliver on its promises to recover NHS dentistry and an NHS dentist for everyone’.

Mark Jones, said: “At today’s roundtable meeting held at the Department of Health and Social Care, a multitude of voices from experts in their respective fields of oral healthcare were heard.

“For the most part, these concerned what the future of NHS dentistry could look like if there was some joined up thinking.

“Where Toothless in England focused was the here and now. I made an impassioned plea directly to the health minister, Andrea Leadsom MP, to recognise and address the immediate needs of a massive number of patients who are today suffering unnecessarily from chronic pain and other conditions which could and should be treated without delay.

“I reminded the minister that patients are continuing to die from preventable oral cancer and dental sepsis and called on her to declare a Dental Emergency whereby emergency powers could be issued so that all dental practices open their doors to the most vulnerable and in need.

“I hope that both she and her department were listening, but the 2.5 million new appointments announced won’t have much of an impact when there are so few NHS practices open for business and those that are open are considering throwing in the towel because of a broken and financially unviable NHS contract.”

In February, the government announced its: ‘Our plan to recover and reform NHS dentistry’.

A spokesman said at the time: “The changes we have announced 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 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, 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.