Posted by Joanne Mellor
The Department for Health has announced a £30 million cash boost for NHS dentists to fund new patients or open extra clinics.
The cash injection is hoped to encourage dentists to increase the number of people who register with them so that they can in turn help the NHS achieve its goals of improved oral health and increased public access to dental surgeries.
Since May 2010 more than one million new patients have registered with an NHS dentist and the Department for Health wants to ensure that this progress continues. By investing money into dentistry the Department for Health hopes that practitioners will maintain high standards of care as well as treating a larger number of new patients.
Health minister Lord Howe said that good oral health is a key priority of the government. It is currently working to perfect its dental pilot programme with surgeries testing out different elements before a final contract is drawn up. However, the main aim of the scheme is to improve overall oral health as well as to increase access to dentists.
“Better oral health is a key priority of the government and we recently extended the dental pilot programme which will see preventative care at the heart of dentistry going forward,” Lord Howe said.
Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer for England, hopes to appeal to patients by highlighting the benefits of oral health on confidence.
“Having stained teeth, unhealthy gums and bad breath is not only bad for your health, it is so damaging for confidence too,” he said.
Mr Cockcroft believes that having a healthy smile is very important and he hopes that the new investment of £30 million will see thousands of patients pick up the phone and register with an NHS dentist.
NHS dental surgeries that are interested in receiving funding for their practices can apply to their local NHS to access the extra funds which can be used to take on new patients, fund extra clinics or buy in new services such as orthodontics.