Thank you for contacting me regarding dentistry. Access to dental care is a vitally important issue and I have raised concerns the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. Whilst Covid-19 has undoubtedly had a significant impact on resources and availability, I am concerned about the bigger picture. I have held meetings this week with Healthwatch Isle of Wight to discuss the situation in greater depth.
I understand that Urgent Dental Care hubs have been set up in Cowes, Ryde and Bembridge and I thank all those who have been involved in providing this essential service.
I am currently in talks with the NHS at regional and national level to find options to improve the immediate situation on the Isle of Wight and also to provide a longer term solution to the shortage of dentists. I am currently awaiting a meeting with the minister about this. The NHS Interim People Plan published in June last year acknowledged that there is a shortage of dentists, which the NHS is committed to addressing; the Health Education England-led programme Advancing Dental Care is exploring the opportunities for more flexible dental training pathways. This programme sits alongside reforms to dental contracts as part of the NHS and Government’s commitment to improve retention and the working lives of dentists and dental care professionals.
I have also received communication regarding vaccine availability for dental staff. I am pressing Government for other groups to be added to the priority list for Covid vaccines and await updates on these enquiries.
I understand that the past 12 months have been tough for us all. Dentistry is an integral part of the clinical services provided by the NHS and I would like to thank all those dentists, dental nurses and others in the industry that have gone above and beyond to ensure treatment has been able to continue safely and efficiently on the Isle of Wight.