Worcestershire Liberal Democrats are demanding an explanation after the Prime Minister claimed there was a new contract resulting in more NHS dentists. The British Dental Association (BDA) are also refuting the claim, calling Rishi Sunak's statement "a grotesque misrepresentation of a crisis facing millions."
Answering a question at last week's Prime Minister's Questions about the lack of NHS dentists across the country, Rishi Sunak said "as a result of the new reformed NHS dentistry contract there are now more NHS dentists across the UK with more funding making sure people can get the treatment they need."
The BDA have suggested that none of the PM's claims are accurate. They have highlighted that the ongoing exodus from NHS contracts meant that NHS activity in England in 2021-22 was lower than levels seen in 2017/18. They have also argued that "recent tweaks" to the NHS system is not a 'new contract' and is already discredited.
The number of people who've seen an NHS dentist in Worcestershire has plummeted in recent years. Only 36.6% of adults in Worcestershire, were able to secure an appointment with an NHS dentist in the past two years. This is down from 48.2% who saw an NHS dentist in the two years up to 2018.
In November 2022 it was reported that the government had offered a £15,000 retainer to NHS Dentists as a one-off payment to encourage them to commit to working in a location for up to five years. This has not increased the availability of appointments in Worcestershire.
Dan Boatright, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for West Worcestershire, said:
"It is clear the government has lost control of the situation. While residents find themselves considering emergency tooth removals because they cannot find suitable dentistry, the Prime Minister is making false claims in parliament.
It is staggering to see the British Dental Association call on the Prime Minister to correct the record, and shows how out of touch this government has become.
Our petition now has hundreds of signatories and the stories I have received from residents shows the horrific pain this government is causing instead of improving access to treatment."
The Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to fund a long term strategy to improve access to NHS dental appointments, as well as funding the NHS and social care properly.
You can sign our petition here.