I've raised the issue of the falling morale of young dentists trying to work under the NHS dental contract, which we feel has hit rock bottom, on the BBC's news. I explained that the contract is target-driven, so that it incentivises activity over actual patient care, and that it isn't delivering the best deal for our patients.
It's fantastic to see the media is finally listening to the problems we are facing and we hope that commissioners are going to deliver on their promises and give us a reformed NHS dental contract that works for us as young dentists, as well as for our patients.
We know that increasingly young dentists are not seeing their future in NHS dentistry. I think this is a tragedy and we are truly at crisis point.
The government invests around £175,000 training each young dentist, and I believe working in the NHS, particularly early-on in your career, should provide you with both the confidence and skills to help you progress, and give you time to decide which future career path is the best one for you.
Patients should be able to benefit from getting access to NHS dental treatment. We've been highlighting figures to show that one in 10 of the adult population either can't get an appointment with an NHS dentist, the dental patient charges are putting them or, or they have just simply given up trying.
Prevention is something that requires real investment, not just words. We need to ensure patients come to us for regular check-ups and advice on keeping good oral health, as well as just the drilling and filling.
We have set out our key asks for the next Government in our manifesto for this General Election. If NHS dentistry is going to have a future, it hinges on this generation of dentists.
We need a joined-up approach, and we're spelling out to parties why commitment from young dentists to NHS work needs to be recognised and rewarded – we need to stop being the missing piece.
But we also need your help: please read the manifesto and speak to your local candidates – as a young dentist you do have the power to change things.
Politicians in your area take the views of professionals, such as dentists, seriously, as they know we are connected to our communities and can voice the concerns of our patients, who are also their constituents and potential voters.
Read some top tips from our Public Affairs Adviser, Rob Cann, on making a strong case for NHS dentistry with your local candidates.
And, if you do speak to any candidates, please get in touch and let us know what they said.
Once our new Government is formed, we will be speaking to MPs and other key stakeholders to keep moving our agenda forward, so it's great to know who has been willing to hear our issues, so we can follow them up.
Nikki Patel, Chair, Young Dentists Committee
NHS Dentistry: The Missing Piece
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