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Dental Services

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN HL224, tabled on 19 October 2019

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take in respone to the shortage of National Health Service dentists.

Answered on

30 October 2019

The latest headcount data published by NHS Digital show that the total number of dentists actively delivering National Health Service services increased from 24,308 to 24,545 during the period 2017/18 to 2018/19.

Both NHS England and Health Education England (HEE) have initiatives in place to tackle recruitment and retention issues. HEE’s current programme Advancing Dental Care is exploring the opportunities for flexible dental training pathways that can better serve patients as well as improving dental workforce retention. NHS England is introducing ‘flexible commissioning’, which allows local NHS commissioners to commission a wider range of services from dental practices which is expected to make NHS dentistry more attractive to newly qualified dentists.

These initiatives sit alongside the Department’s and NHS England’s work to reform the current NHS dental contract to support dentists to deliver preventatively focussed care. The patient pathway in the new model makes greater use of the whole dental team including nurses and therapists which moves away from needing dentists to complete every course of treatment.

The interim NHS People Plan, published in June 2019, sets out plans for the future dental workforce. This commits to creating a capable and motivated multidisciplinary dental workforce, of a sufficient size, to meet population health needs.