MPs join calls for abandonment of new NHS dental targets

Members of Parliament have rallied together in a bid for new NHS dental targets to be scrapped 'as a matter of urgency'Members of Parliament have rallied together in a bid to scrap new NHS dental targets ‘as a matter of urgency’.

Labour MPs Mick Whitley, Paula Barker and Kim Johnson put together a letter urging the government to reconsider the latest contractual requirements imposed on NHS dentistry.

From 1 January to 31 March 2021, practices are expected to deliver 45% of their pre-pandemic levels of dental activity.

But the profession argue these targets – which were announced in December – are unachievable in the current climate.

In a letter to health secretary Matt Hancock, the MPs call for the NHS dental targets to be abandoned. Alternatively, they urge for a new plan that gradually restores services without risking the health of staff and patients.

Mounting pressure

‘Practices are working incredibly hard to achieve a full restoration of services,’ they write.

‘But many patients remain understandably reluctant to attend for routine treatments – especially following the imposition of new lockdown restrictions.

‘A significant backlog of high-need patients is also still being worked through. We are concerned the pressure to meet these new targets will further contribute to an already considerable workload and will have a significant impact on the mental wellbeing of dental clinicians and their support staff.’

They also warn against the high impact on smaller surgeries across the country.

Dental targets endanger wellbeing

‘The imposition of fines for not meeting targets is likely to have a disproportionate impact on smaller, single-surgery practices,’ they add.

‘These surgeries – which are more likely to serve rural, isolated, and high-need communities – simply cannot afford to pay significant fines during this challenging time. Many of these smaller surgeries may be forced to close.

‘We therefore ask you to abandon this increase in performance targets as a matter of urgency. The Department for Health and Social Care must instead engage constructively with the dental profession. They need to develop a plan that moves towards the full restoration of services in good time. And without endangering the wellbeing of staff and patients.’


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