Charity predicts a tough year for oral health

An oral health charity is expecting 2012 to be a challenging year for the nation’s oral health as the NHS starts to make savings of £20 billion.

The British Dental Health Foundation cites the Comprehensive Spending Review and the Chancellor’s budget announced in March last year as it begins to take effect.

‘It is really important that all dental and health professionals responsible for improving oral health continue to lobby hard to protect their budgets and keep oral health a priority.  Once the money has been lost from local budgets, it is unlikely to return for the foreseeable future’

The NHS in England was one of the few government departments not to see its budget cut in the Comprehensive Spending Review published in October 2010.

However, its £106 billion budget is only planned to rise by 0.4% over the next few years and will decline from 2015 onwards.

More pressingly, the NHS needs to make productivity and efficiency savings of £20 billion by the end of the current Parliament as a result of reducing expenditure and rising demand.

The Foundation is concerned that oral health promotion budgets will come under increasing pressure within the NHS as cuts begin to be made in the next financial year, resulting in a significant negative impact on the nation’s oral health.

Chief executive of the BDHF, Dr Nigel Carter, said: ‘It is really important that all dental and health professionals responsible for improving oral health continue to lobby hard to protect their budgets and keep oral health a priority.  Once the money has been lost from local budgets, it is unlikely to return for the foreseeable future.’

The British Dental Health Foundation is playing its part in 2012 to help cash-strapped budget holders, and ensure that oral health education is seen as affordable, effective and value for money.

‘We have invested significantly in refreshing our flagship national oral health campaign – National Smile Month – which provides all health professionals with an easy, cost-effective, off-the-shelf way to promote oral health messages,’ said Dr Carter.

‘National Smile Month in 2012 has a new look and has also been announced much earlier to enable health professionals to plan and secure funding well in advance of the next financial year. In addition, we are working hard to make more resources available free of charge, including giving away 10,000 ‘Smileys’ – the symbol of this year’s campaign.

‘We are also introducing new lower price points for our educational resources to help organisations with the smallest budgets to get involved. Resources start from as little as £1.49 for a pack of 10 ‘Smileys’, and an investment of around £100 could be used to promote individual and effective oral health messages to a school of around 1,000 pupils.

‘National Smile Month will have a bigger impact in the high street in 2012 creating new opportunities for health professionals. In addition to our major sponsors Oral-B, Wrigley and Listerine, the campaign has the support of several retailers including Aldi, Lloyds Pharmacy and Wilkinson.

‘We hope all of these improvements will help ensure that dental and health professionals can continue to benefit from the UK’s biggest oral health campaign,’ he said.

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To find out more about National Smile Month 2012, including registering for free resources, visit www.smilemonth.org.

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