The number of children going to hospital for dental extractions is a ‘national scandal’, Health Minister, Alistair Burt MP has said.
Giving the keynote address at the 2016 BDA Conference in Manchester he explained they should not be tolerated in 2016, but he was not going to blame this on dentists.
Day by day dental teams were delivering preventive care but were not getting the credit, he said.
He continued that the profession was also largely responsible for reported improvements in the oral health of five-year-olds and for this the Minister thanked dentists.
Despite these improvements, there are still pockets of deprivation where decay is a major problem.
The Minister sought the help of the profession in reaching places where problems were evident.
Mr Burt turned to ways to improve oral health and the initiatives that were ongoing.
He mentioned the Change4life programme and helping children become ‘sugar smart’.
The childhood obesity strategy was also due to be published later this summer and would be relevant to oral health as well.
But, he stressed, progress would only be made through working together, in partnership, including the profession.
He praised the achievements of Childsmile in Scotland and similar initiatives in England.
He agreed with NHS England that an initiative to examine the feasibility of tying such schemes in with commissioning and it will report back in October.
Turning to the new contract – the so-called prototype pilots – the Minister said their objective was to encourage a more preventive approach, through personal care plans and clinical pathways.
He said the intention was still to roll out a new contract nationally in 2018-19.
He appeared confident of a positive outcome.
Finally Alistair Burt turned to regulation and the GDC.
He recognised the loss of trust with the regulator, which was also brought up in a question after the speech, asking why Mr Moyes had not been sacked.
The Minister said that there had been a major shake-up of the management team, including the recently appointed new chief executive, Ian Brack.
He urged patience from dentists but warned the new management that this was their last chance.
He ended by stressing the contribution of dentists to oral health and a recognition of what they had achieved.
The profession had not been given the credit for all it did and he hoped that his speech would be the start of greater recognition.
The minister showed he had listened to what he was told by dentists, officials and MPs, laying stress on the advice he had received from Sir Paul Beresford MP.