York got NOTHING out of £50 million extra to tackle dental crisis

A HEALTH watchdog has discovered that out of £50 million extra provided by NHS England in January to tackle the dentistry crisis, NONE was spent in York.

The money was meant to pay for “hundreds of thousands more dental appointments to help recovery of services’ nationwide but Healthwatch York says a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has shown that York residents failed to benefit in any way.

It was told ‘there were no expressions of interested received from eligible and willing practices in York, therefore there were no additional sessions provided.’

But Healthwatch manager Sian Balsom said her team ‘continued to take calls week in, week out, from people desperate to see a dentist.’

She said the cash was a ‘temporary filling’ which was no solution to York’s dental crisis.

“It’s simply not good enough,” she said. “We have been calling for some time now for urgent and radical reform of the NHS dental contract. The current contract is not fit for purpose.”

The Press revealed how bad the crisis was last month when readers told how they had been left in a limbo, with holes in their teeth which they couldn’t get filled and check-ups due which they couldn’t obtain.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said earlier this year that the Government had “put in an additional £50 million of funds into NHS dental services” at the start of 2022, which “boosted dental capacity by creating 350,000 extra appointments”.

Healthwatch’s FoI request to NHS England revealed that the extra £50 million was only available to fund additional services within the 2021/22 financial year, during February and March,and it was not possible to carry forward any underspend.

Across Yorkshire and the Humber, £1.4m of the money was spent by the end of March, funding 2,446 sessions, with an average number of patients for each session between 4 and 6 depending on the clinical need.

Sian Balsom said that although all the spending was done by end of March, the additional £50 million was still being quoted by the Department of Health and Social Care.

“Realistically, no one can take on new staff, or buy and equip new premises for a 2-month funding opportunity,” she said.

“It’s hard not to see this as merely a gimmick, some Billy Flynn style ‘Razzle Dazzle’.”

She said a long-term solution was needed that guaranteed access to an NHS dentist for anyone who needed it.

“It must include a decent income for dentists who support their patients to have good oral health.

“It must recognise that we are already seeing the legacy of the ongoing failure to provide this support – patients with complex oral health needs who require multiple fillings or are missing significant numbers of teeth.”

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said the decline in oral healthcare was of serious concern, and things were continuing to get worse as York could not recruit NHS dentists.


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