United Kingdom
NHS dentists increased by 1,100 in a year
Nov 11, 2005 - 1:02:00 AM

There are more NHS dentists now and will be in the future thanks to a successful recruitment campaign bringing dentists to the NHS to improve access, and an increase in the number of students able to train as dentists, said Health Minister Rosie Winterton today.

Speaking at the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary, University of London, as she met new dental students, Rosie Winterton confirmed that the Government has far exceeded its target to recruit the whole time equivalent of 1000 more dentists and has also seen the largest increase in the number of dental training places in nearly 20 years.

In the past year the equivalent of 1,453 more dentists were recruited to the NHS, contributing to a net increase of 1,100 dentists. The target to increase dental training places by 25 per cent, to 170 more places, was also exceeded by 10 per cent, with 189 more students entering training this year to become future dentists.

In July 2004 the Health Secretary set a target to recruit the equivalent of 1000 more whole time dentists to the NHS to alleviate local access problems around the country, and to increase the number of places in dental schools for students training to be dentists by 25 per cent, 170 new places.

In addition, there are now 700,000 more people registered with an NHS dentist, increasing the total number registered from 23.7 to 24.4 million. This partly reflects the longer registration period in PDS schemes, which have been successfully piloted across the country by 30 per cent of NHS dentists.

Rosie Winterton said;

"NHS dentistry is getting better, and we are doing all we can to keep increasing access to NHS dentistry. We know access to an NHS dentist has been a problem for people and that is why we started a year long recruitment campaign last July to bring more dentists to the NHS so more people can see an NHS dentist near where they live. Dentists have been targeted to areas where seeing an NHS dentist has been most difficult, for example the South West Peninsula, North East Yorkshire, East Anglia, Shropshire, and the Isle of Wight. There is still clearly more to do, but I am pleased to see that already many patients are seeing the benefits of new dentists in these areas.

"Whilst this recruitment drive is helping in the short term, it is not the whole solution. To build a better future for NHS dentistry and ensure enduring improvements in access we have also increased the number of training places for dental students by a quarter. This means 170 more students each year will now train to become dentists of the future.

"We are also introducing the new types of contract that dentists asked for, which will make the NHS a more attractive place for them to work."

Acting Chief Dental Officer Barry Cockcroft said;

"As well as recruiting more dentists to the NHS, we are also introducing a major programme of dentistry reforms in April 2006 that will have significant benefits both for patients and dentists. For patients, the reforms will mean that their local Primary Care Trust now has the budget to replace dentists if they leave or reduce their commitment to the NHS. Based on the experience of PDS pilot schemes, we know the reforms - together with the new NICE guidelines on patient recall intervals - will also free up capacity that dentists can use to see more patients and to spend more time with patients, for instance on preventative work.

"For dentists, the new contract will mean an end to the 'treadmill' associated with the current payment system. Dentists will have the security of a guaranteed annual NHS income, so they can plan ahead, and their workload is set to reduce by at least 5 per cent."

Professor Paul Wright, Dean of Dentistry at the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary, University of London, said.

"We are proud of the first-class training our students receive at Barts and The London and are glad that with extra funding, we can now train even more students. These extra students we are teaching to be tomorrow's dentists will play an important part in making NHS dentistry available to more people. Together with the other dental schools in England, we have been pleased to be able to work with the Department of Health and the Higher Education Funding Council to deliver the extra training places promised by the Government last year."

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