Portsmouth MP in urgent plea for ministers to step in and tackle Britain's dental crisis

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‘GENERATIONAL damage to patient care’ could be caused if the government doesn’t step in to save Britain’s embattled dental industry, an MP has warned.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, said the coronavirus pandemic had deepened a crisis in the nation's dental industry.

Speaking during a debate in parliament on Thursday, the Labour shadow minister warned that more people were struggling to access NHS dentistry.

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His comments following an investigation by The News, which last year revealed more than 77,000 people nationwide had turned up at overstretched A&Es in 2019/20 with dental problems, costing the NHS an estimated £13m.


Mr Morgan said: ‘Dental services in our city were already under huge pressure even before the impacts of Covid-19, but the government is exacerbating the situation.

‘The recently imposed NHS activity targets are particularly illogical. The targets effectively force practices to prioritise volume over need – leaving them with little choice but to conduct routine check-ups instead of clearing the backlog of more time-consuming treatments.

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‘This creates the unsustainable situation where patients in our city are unable to access the treatment they need, while practitioners are in a race against time to maintain their financial viability.’

Portsmouth South MP,  Stephen MorganPortsmouth South MP,  Stephen Morgan
Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan
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'Urgent' plea goes out to parliament to resume probe into UK's dental crisis

The Labour MP’s statement followed a dental ‘summit' he staged this week, with representatives from Healthwatch Portsmouth, the British Dental Association (BDA) and local dental leaders.

Health chiefs warned new targets set by the government could lead to some practices facing steep financial penalties if they fail to hit 45 per cent of their pre-pandemic NHS activity during the current quarter.

According to figures from the BDA, only 43 per cent of adults in Portsmouth have seen an NHS dentist in the two years up to June 2020, compared to 48 per cent across England.

Mr Morgan is now calling on ministers to intervene.

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‘Though ministers have committed to reforming the system we have seen no action and little appetite to do so. It is essential we fundamentally reform the way NHS dentistry is commissioned and incentivised.

‘Without urgent change, NHS dentistry in Portsmouth and across the country could be decimated, permanently damaging patient care for decades to come.’

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