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MP vows to act over ‘quiet crisis’ in NHS dentistry

Following the announcement that three dental practices are closing in his city, Stephen Morgan MP has hosted a roundtable factfinding meeting with the Chair of the British Dental Association and regional representatives in Parliament.

The BDA, who are the professional body and trade union representing dentists across the UK, relayed their expert opinion on the reasons behind the closures in Portsmouth and the wider implications of the crisis the sector is facing.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Oral healthcare in Portsmouth is facing challenging times.

1 in 5 Portsmouth children have tooth decay by the time they are 5 years old, the number of children being admitted to hospital for emergency treatment has doubled and we are way above the national average when it comes to those who are being turned away from dental practices.

It seems the problems faced by our city are indicative of a wider, silent crisis that has so far remained out of the spotlight. I will be working alongside the BDA in a bid to get the Governmernt to address these major failings.

Ministers must urgently act and come up with a dental strategy that is focused on long-term sustainability, prevention and has better access at its core.”

The BDA have outlined that the system is not sustainable or fit for purpose because the current contract essentially sets quotas on the numbers of patients a dentist can see on the NHS.

The Health Select Committee, Chief Dental Officer, patients and dentists have all signalled this flaw in the current system.

The City MP added:

“The BDA are an organisation of dentists for dentists, it is undeniable that they are the industry experts.

Today was about finding out the reasons behind the crisis Portsmouth and our nation increasingly faces.

It seems that there are a number of factors behind the closures in our city but two stand out. The recruitment and retention calamity faced by the sector and the outdated and inadequate way in which NHS dentistry is commissioned.”

The Portsmouth MP’s meeting with the BDA comes one week after a meeting with NHS England and was a fact-finding mission aimed at isolating the underlying problems with the current structure.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for the MP to liaise with the Chair and other senior representatives and establish solid foundations for continued cooperation.

Mr Morgan said:

“This is a serious issue for Portsmouth and for our country.

With the Government making real term cuts to dentistry of nearly 30% since 2010, more and more people are finding themselves unable to get treatment which is putting pressure on other NHS services.

I am committed to continued cooperation with the BDA and have submitted a Westminster Hall debate on patient access to dental care in a bid to keep this issue at the forefront of the Government’s agenda.”