Following the publication of a report by Healthwatch England this week, MP Bob Seely has spoken in parliament about the issues Islanders face with trying to access NHS dentistry services.
In a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday (25 May) Mr Seely highlighted to Dentistry Minister, Jo Churchill, the struggles that some Islanders have been facing with trying to access an NHS dentist.
He said: “Some Islanders who are getting a new dentist are now having to go to the mainland for treatment.
“That is incredibly inconvenient, especially given that, with the most expensive ferries in the world, some kids on the Island have never seen a dentist in their life.”
He said the problems seemed to be exacerbated in coastal, rural and isolated areas such as the Isle of Wight with the nearest dental school to the Isle of Wight (in Portsmouth) not producing enough dentists. He explained to the Minister there was a further problem on the Island with dentists leaving the Island or retiring.
Recognising there was no easy fix, Mr Seely suggested some potentially ‘quick wins’ that could help ease the problem. His suggestions included the initiation of a dental training scheme on the Island, the need to simplify the process for qualifying as a training practice, and a boost to the funding for the salary of interns.
He also stressed that changes to contracts to incentivise dentists to remain in the NHS was important as was the separation of laboratory fees from dental fees to help laboratories survive.
Speaking after the debate, Mr Seely said: “There is no easy solution to the problem, I understand that, but I want to work with the Government to see what can be done to ease problems here on the Island.
"I know that the Minister is receptive to new ideas and I will continue to engage in further conversations with her to see what can practically be done.”