Reacting to the Minister for Community Health and Care’s statement that changes to NHS dentistry contracts would not be rolled out until 2018, Imran has declared that the state of dentistry in Bradford means the city cannot wait.
As one of the worst performing areas of the country in terms of access to an NHS dentist, as shown by figures obtained as part of Healthwatch Bradford’s survey into NHS dentists highlighting 4 in 10 adults and almost 1 in 3 children did not have an NHS dentist, Bradford also ranks as one of the worst areas for dental health, a problem worsening as a result of rising health inequalities in the city, and Imran has declared that changes to dentistry provision cannot wait to tackle this growing problem.
Announced in April 2014 at the British Dental Association Conference, the Government set out proposals for new dental contract prototypes to replace the primary dental care contracts running from 2006. These contracts implemented changes to remunerate dental practices purely on activity such as treatment and repair, but in their current form do not allow dentists to provide NHS treatment beyond the number of treatments set out within their contract, and were declared by the British Dental Association as ‘not fit for purpose’, with further criticism from the Chief Dental Office and the House of Commons Health Select Committee.
Due to the failures of this contract and to update the system of contracting, the Department for Health has been trialling a dental pilots programme from 2011 to test new ways of delivering care focussed on prevention, which has fed into the prototype. In contrast to the 2006 contracts, this prototype bases remuneration on registration, capitation and quality, which Imran believes would go a considerable way towards tackling the problems facing dentistry provision in Bradford. Yet the Government has stated in response to Imran’s parliamentary questions that evaluation of the prototype scheme is not expected until 2017-18, with the rolling out of changes then not expected until 2018-19.
Following this response to his questions, Mr Hussain has therefore pledged to write to and meet with the Minister for Community Health and Care to press him to expand the prototype to dental practices in Bradford, and to consider Bradford as one of the 10 high needs areas selected in November 2016 to test NHS England’s new methods of improving children’s oral health.
Speaking on dentistry provision in Bradford, Imran said:
“There is a huge and growing problem with dentistry in Bradford, and whilst there is no quick fix solution, changes to the current system of NHS dental contracts to one that better rewards dentists for improving the oral health of patients would go a long way towards it, which is why Bradford needs changes to dentistry contract changes now, not in 2018.
“The current system of dental care contracts have been in place now for over ten years, and were based on the oral health needs assessments identifying the needs of the community at that time, but since then, the oral health needs of people in Bradford have changed substantially, leading to the current system being in desperate need of change.
“If we do not take action to tackle the growing crisis in dental healthcare in Bradford, it will only get worse, and I will be seeking to meet with the Minister for Community Health and Care who has responsibility for dentistry contracts to press him to include Bradford as one of the 10 high needs areas that will be selected in November to test new methods of improving children’s oral health."