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Oral healthcare in prisons and secure settings

We are seeking to improve the working lives of dentists working in prisons and secure settings, improve working conditions for members, and promote improved oral health of this group of patients.

Pensions win for prison dentists

After five years of campaigning on your behalf, prison dentists who were wrongly denied access to the NHS Pension Scheme are now able to apply for retrospective contributions and to access the scheme going forward. Our lead negotiator on prison pensions, Nilesh Patel, has described how the argument was won on prison pensions.


For advice on what this change might mean for you members can login to access our prison pensions FAQs or get in touch with our team on


Non-members can join today to access our FAQs or reach out to the NHS BSA for more information.


Commissioning dental care in secure settings

We have worked with NHS England Health and Justice, Public Health England and the National Association of Prison Dentistry UK (NAPDUK) in developing new service specifications for prisons and immigration removal centres, which are now published. These will form the basis of future commissioning of these services.


We hope that these specifications will lead to more consistent commissioning that better supports dentists to care for and treat their patients and deliver equivalence to care in other settings.


Improving oral health in prisons


In May 2018 the BDA and NAPDUK submitted a joint response to the Health and Social Care Parliamentary Select Committee on their inquiry into prison healthcare in England.
Our key messages:
  • On entry to prison, the healthcare interview should include an assessment for dental issues
  • Specific training for dental care teams in a prison setting is imperative, and particularly for new practitioners in these settings
  • The patients' dental records should transfer with the patient to ensure continuity of care

The Select Committee’s report highlighted “critical gaps in [dental] services commissioned” where “the contracts do not always reflect clinical need”. It is unfortunate that the Government’s response to the Select Committee only included a limited reference to dentistry.



In February 2017 BDA Scotland replied to a Parliamentary Inquiry by the Health and Sport Committee on healthcare in prisons.
Our key messages: 
  • Routine dental treatment should be given to prisoners on remand or sentenced for less than 12 months not just urgent dental care.
  • More investment in a proper IT system
  • More dental resource in prisons to ensure appropriate capactiy of service provision
  • Reduced waiting times for patients

What needs to change: healthcare in prisons

Since 2012, we've been clear on our recommendations for improving oral healthcare in prisons and secure settings: