16 October 2023
NHS Dentists – Update

Dental health is a crucial part of NHS services and it is vital that EVERYONE can access the support they need when they need it.

Over the past 3 years, I have actively campaigned to secure improvements to NHS dental provision in our region and some positive progress has been made.

However, there remains much more to be done.

That’s why, as part of my ongoing efforts with parliamentary colleagues, NHS officials and other stakeholders, I recently welcomed the chance to hear more from the Norfolk and Waveney NHS Integrated Care Board with regards to their Short Term Dental Plan.

The Plan, which has been designed to address the most urgent priorities in dental provision and look for quick methods by which the local sector can be stabilised and access to services for patients can be improved, has been developed following extensive engagement with local dental providers and stakeholders like Healthwatch.

Although it will not solve all of the challenges facing NHS dental provision in our region, the Short Term Plan does intend to deliver tangible short term benefits, while giving the ICB time to develop the Longer Term Plan that will ensure Norfolk has the first class dental provision it needs for years to come. I understand they remain on course to publish that longer term strategy by Spring 2024.

I believe the best people to drive forward progress are the local clinical and care sector leaders and professionals who are working on the frontline – and who have first-hand expertise of the issues being faced. I am therefore delighted to see the ICB using the new powers they acquired following the transfer of local NHS dental commissioning from NHS England to themselves earlier this year in exactly the manner intended.

(Full details on the ICB’s dental plans, including the Short Term Dental Plan, can be found here)

In Westminster, I recently co-signed joint-Norfolk MP letters to both the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Chancellor – in which we reiterated our support for the establishment of a full undergraduate School of Dentistry at UEA and called for additional NHS dental service improvements in the East.

From my ongoing conversations with ministers, I understand that the Government will shortly be publishing its own plan aimed at increasing access to NHS dentistry, and that further discussions are also taking place between NHS England, the British Dental Association and other stakeholders with a view to reforming the NHS dental contract so that dentists are better incentivised to take on more NHS work.

Rest assured, I will continue to follow developments closely and will continue to work with fellow Norfolk MPs to drive forward positive progress.

I am acutely aware that access to NHS dental appointments remains one of the biggest concerns locally for my constituents. I am determined to do everything I can to ensure Mid Norfolk (and Norfolk as a whole)’s voice is heard at the highest levels.

To find out more about my long running campaign on these matters, please click here.