DSC calls on the government to respond to the growing need for access to NHS dentistry
As 2023 begins, many patients will be unable to access NHS dentistry within a reasonable timeline. The Dental Schools Council reminds the UK Government that access to dentistry remains a pressing challenge.
Addressing these issues will be difficult, however Dental School Deans have proposed three solutions to begin to address the under supply of oral healthcare in the UK. These were published in November 2022 in an article on the DSC website. DSC is still keen to meet government to discuss addressing shortages in dentistry care, by:
1. Increasing numbers of people studying dentistry
Existing dental schools have capacity to train more students with the right investment. Funding would need to be maintained or increased per student, including for clinical rotations. Outreach could be facilitated through the forthcoming Centres for Dental Development.
2. Improving Dental Therapy student funding
The capacity of the dental team has potential to expand by enabling Dental Therapists to work to their maximum scope of practice. This is in line with government dentistry workforce plans from Health Education England (HEE). However, there are currently not enough dental therapists to meet demand, especially as the sector’s acceptance grows of their increased scope of practice. Universities are not incentivised to run the Dental Therapy courses since the funding falls far short of what they costs to deliver.
3. Securing capital funding for suitable infrastructure
Since its explicit exclusion from dental funding from HEE in England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), dental schools and hospitals have not been able to obtain alternative sustainable investments to keep estates up to date: to fix wear and tear, and to meet new standards and requirements. Teaching will be more efficient if it is carried out in suitable buildings.
DSC is keen to work together with the dental community and the government to improve access to dentistry.