The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,
Declares that the recent survey by the British Dental Association shows the dental workforce has been reduced to a level not seen since 2012-13; further that unmet need for dentistry is at record high at 1 in 4 of adult population in 2022; further that the proportion of dentists now reporting their intention to reduce—or further reduce—the amount of NHS work they undertake in 2023 stands at 74%; further that the National Audit Office ranked the East Riding of Yorkshire as having the third lowest count of dentists per head of population in the country at 3.6 per 10,000 in its latest report; further that Hull has historically high levels of tooth decay in children; further that there is a direct correlation between increased rates of tooth extractions and the risk of mouth cancer; further that there is an overwhelming need for more dentists in the region; further that this need can be met by training more dentists locally; further notes Hull York Medical School opened in 2003 and now sees over 150 newly qualified doctors a year enter the profession.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government take into account the concerns of the petitioners and take immediate action to facilitate the creation of a Hull York Dental School.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Emma Hardy, Official Report, 18 July 2023; Vol. 736, c. 879.]
Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Neil O'Brien):
We recognise there are parts of England with long-standing concerns in respect of NHS dental access. The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan (LTWP) sets out the steps the NHS and its partners need to take to deliver an NHS workforce that meets the changing needs of the population over the next 15 years. It will put the workforce on a sustainable footing for the long term.
The LTWP, published 30 June 2023, included projections for the number of doctors, nurses and other professionals that would be needed, including dentists and the wider dental workforce. As set out in the LTWP, we are going to increase dentistry training places by 40% so that there are over 1,100 places by 2031-32. To support this ambition, we will expand places by 24% by 2028-29, taking the overall number of dentistry training places that year to 1,000. Additionally, we are going to increase training places for dental therapists and hygiene professionals to more than 500 by 2031-32.
We will work with partners to assess the capacity within existing current dental schools to accommodate the proposed expansion in training places. If required to deliver our ambitions on workforce expansion, we will explore the creation of new dental schools.
However, establishing new dental schools takes several years and therefore would not impact service provision for many years. As set out in the LTWP, work is already underway through the establishment of centres for dental development to bring together dental education and training with service delivery models, particularly in areas where there is a shortage of workforce relative to population need.
In addition to the proposals on dental workforce set out in the LTWP, we are currently working on a plan for dentistry, to improve access to dental care across England. There are several fronts where we need to take further action to support and recover activity in NHS dentistry, to improve access to care for all ages.