Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield warns of threat to city dental services
A Sheffield MP has voiced concerns about the future of dentistry.
Paul Blomfield tis urging the Government to change course to protect local dental practices, following the introduction of new Government targets which dentists say will damage their services.
In December, the Government introduced new targets for NHS dentists to achieve 45 per cent of their ‘normal activity’, but dentists say that the social distancing and deep-cleaning measures required to keep dental work Covid-secure means that reaching this target is impossible.
This means that dental practices could face financial penalties for failing to reach these targets for ‘normal’ operations, and so are more likely to prioritise quicker ‘normal activity’ appointments like check-ups over urgent care appointments which take longer and require more extreme deep cleaning afterwards.
Mr Blomfield told Parliament: “This ‘normal activity’ target will skew priorities away from those patients most in need. As one dentist explained to me, they will be “forced to stop seeing emergency patients …… and to push the limits of the sound infection control procedures brought in to protect patients and staff”. As another said: “These targets are the wrong choice at the wrong time”. This is not scaremongering as has been suggested, but a real and genuine concern from dental professions who care about the services they provide.”
The Association of Dental Groups say that problems are particularly acute in more deprived urban, coastal and rural areas, and 76 per cent of respondents to a British Dental Association survey in Yorkshire report a significant increase in cancelled appointments or no shows have increased since the third lockdown, directly impacting on the ability to meet the targets.
Mr Blomfield added: “Dentistry often doesn’t get the attention it deserves when we think about health services – but it’s absolutely vital. The nonsensical imposition of targets for ‘normal NHS activity’ in what are obviously abnormal times will not help patients. The Government must look at this again; instead of imposing arbitrary targets without consultation, they must work with dentists to find a solution focused on patient care.”