The RCSEd Faculty of Dental Surgery Responds to Dental Recovery Plan

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12 Feb 2024

In response to the Dental Recovery Plan from 7 February 2024, Grant McIntyre, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh said: 

“While the Dental Recovery Plan includes some encouraging elements, is does not go far enough to rescue a dental care system that is chronically overstretched and underfunded.

We have long called for a focus on prevention rather than reactive treatment and welcome the introduction of the Smile for Life programme and the water fluoridation proposal. The consultation and subsequent roll-out of the latter must be quick and decisive to minimise any further delay to this important action.

What the Plan does not include is any move to empower those best placed to promote oral health – dentists themselves. The recently updated dental payment model in Scotland focuses on prevention rather than reactive treatment, compensating dentists for both aspects. This would be welcomed across the UK, allowing dentists to operate within a system characterised by high trust and minimal bureaucracy, where they can exercise clinical discretion in providing a comprehensive package of both oral health promotion and treatment.

While the ‘new patient’ payment, ‘golden hellos’, and Dental Vans could in theory extend access to dental care, it is important to note that there must be dental professionals available to deliver this care.

The pipeline of dentists is worryingly lean, attrition is at a worrying rate, and there is a lack of specialist dental provision to tackle the complex issues patients who have not visited a dentist in years will undoubtedly present with – something our College is trying to remedy with our new suite of Dental Diploma Examinations which will provide recognition of expertise in seven key specific areas of dentistry for general dental practitioners. Without further support for dental professionals, the knock-on effect could be even greater pressure on secondary care.

We look forward to consulting with the Government to address these areas of concern.”

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