The British Dental Association (BDA) has challenged Jeremy Hunt to put prevention at the heart of any NHS spending pledges.
The BDA claims that every £1 spent on prevention can generate £3 worth of savings.
In an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the association has called for clarity on investments made in primary care.
‘If Ministers fail to invest in prevention in primary care and public health services they will be on the wrong side of their own strategy for the health service,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong, said.
‘It is wrongheaded to focus on cure over prevention, treating the symptoms but not the causes of the pressure on our NHS.’
Spending per head in dentistry has dropped from £41 to £36 over the last five years, according to the BDA.
It goes on to claim in its open letter that a new prevention-focused dental contract will only work with additional targeted funding to make it financially sustainable.
The BDA claims that any settlement geared at chasing targets for acute care stands at odds with the Government’s own philosophy set out in its Five Year Forward View.
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‘More and more children face six-month waits for tooth extractions in hospital, but the solution cannot be throwing cash at the surgical workforce,’ Mick Armstrong continued.
‘This is about targeted investment.
‘Reform of the failed NHS contract has reached an impasse, and the Government’s stated goals of improving both access and prevention simply cannot be delivered on a standstill budget.
‘To make this work all we need is the cash Ministers have quietly siphoned out of the service since 2012.
‘The Government’s own figures show a pound spent on preventing decay can yield three back in savings.
‘Reducing exposure on hospital and emergency targets is politically useful, but it isn’t a sustainable or cost-effective basis for a healthcare strategy.’