Take action to improve access to NHS dental treatment

13th February 2022 | Posted by: SpaDental Administrator

A debate in parliament on February 10th asked for reform of dental provision. While it won’t be a quick fix, we can all play our part to make our voices heard and bring about change that will benefit all of us who want better access to NHS dental care.

Write to your MP this week.

Find your MP


It’s well worth reading in full this article from the BDA. It explains how you can support the parliamentary debate.

Like many dentists, especially for practices offering NHS services, we are increasingly concerned about the lack of access to NHS dental treatment for our patients. Our concern is not limited to SpaDental, but we are concerned for dentistry in the South-West and across the country.

calendar for access NHS dental treatment

Why is it hard to get an NHS dental appointment?

A combination of the pandemic and Brexit has led to a shortage of dentists in England impacting on the number of appointments available for NHS dental treatment. In short, the result is that there are simply not enough dentists. At SpaDental, for example, we have staff who have returned to Europe because of Brexit, or taken early retirement rather than continue to work during the pandemic.

Foreseeing the problem, we have put a lot of time into recruiting. Unfortunately, we have not been able to hire new dentists to take on NHS work, even though our rates are competitive and working conditions are good. 

How can the public help increase access to NHS dental appointments?

You can help by contacting your local MP’s office to let them know how you feel about the lack of access to NHS dental care. We are trying, but we need action from both the NHS and from central government on these two issues:

1: Schedule more examinations for dentists to qualify

We need our government to strongly encourage the General Dental Council (GDC) to offer more opportunities for candidates qualified overseas to sit the Overseas Registration Examinations so they can work as dentists in England. For example, we have recruited three dentists with overseas qualifications to work in Plymouth and Saltash, yet they can only work as dental therapists until the GDC gives them the opportunity to take their exams.

2: Allow direct access to hygiene for NHS patients

Dental therapists have a broad scope of practice. They deliver excellent preventive treatments, care for children’s teeth, and can place fillings. However, while a private patient can go directly to a dental therapist, an NHS patient cannot. This means that although we have allocated NHS funding, without a dentist we cannot use it. We are talking with the NHS to try to find a way the NHS can fund your treatment with our dental therapists.

When should I contact my MP?

Who should I contact with my issue? UK Parliament

MPs can help with issues that are the responsibility of UK Parliament. They represent their constituents and can help with issues such as:

  • hospitals and the NHS
  • problems with benefits, pensions and national insurance
  • immigration
  • school closures and funding
  • transport facilities

Thank you

We understand our patients’ frustration with the lack of access to NHS dental care. The SpaDental team continues to help our patients from Saltash with emergency and essential care. We must, however, work with due regard to our staffing shortages.

We need a solution for the provision of NHS care to be facilitated by the NHS and our government. Meanwhile, we will continue to prioritise essential care and do our very best to help you when you most need us.

Our sincere thanks to you for continuing to be understanding of the current circumstances.

A note for SpaDental Plymouth and Saltash patients

To help patients in our most affected area get in touch with their local MP, here’s a handy list of local MPs’ offices:

Plymouth, Moor View

Johnny Mercer MP

Tel: 01752 876979

Email: johnny@johnnyforplymouth.co.uk

Website: http://www.johnnyforplymouth.co.uk/

Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

Luke Pollard MP

Phone: 01752 717 255

Email: luke.pollard.mp@parliament.uk

Website: http://www.lukepollard.org/

South East Cornwall

Sheryll Murray MP

Tel: 01579 349186

Email: sheryll@sheryllmurray.com

Website: http://sheryllmurray.com/

South West Devon

Sir Gary Streeter MP

Phone: 01752 335666

Email: deans@parliament.uk

Website: http://www.garystreeter.co.uk/

Additional note:

POSTED IN: Perio, Saltash


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August, 2022

If you feel unwell, please get in touch before you come in for your appointment. One of our team will advise you.