Skip to main content

NHS Dentistry

Volume 738: debated on Tuesday 17 October 2023

15. What recent steps his Department has taken to increase the availability of NHS dentistry services. (906558)

We are making NHS work more attractive to dentists. We have started to reform the contracts and create more UDA bands. We have introduced the minimum UDA value to help sustain practices where values are lower, and we are allowing dentists to deliver 110% of their UDAs. We are also reforming the rules to empower both clinicians and commissioners, for example by enabling therapists to start delivering medicines such as anaesthetics. We are rebasing contract values where they are underperforming, and we are growing the workforce with a record commitment to grow the number of dentists in training by 40%—a commitment never made by the Opposition.

UDA rates, the sum paid to NHS dentists for each unit of dental work undertaken, have long been deemed insufficient. Being based on figures from 2005, there are huge differences in rates between practices, with some receiving less than the NHS charges patients for the service. A recent 5% uplift was based on the Government estimate of a 3% rise in costs, a figure that local dentists tell me is more like 10% to 15%, compounding the losses that NHS dentists are already making. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to reform the UDA system and to stop the flow of dentists leaving the NHS?

That is exactly why we have started to reform the UDA system. As well as the introduction of the first ever minimum UDA rate, which will help constituencies such as my hon. Friend’s, we have changed the rules nationally so that commissioners can take UDAs away from dentists who are underperforming and give them to those who want to do more NHS work. As a result, nearly a quarter more NHS dentistry is being done than a year ago.