Bradshaw says dental care is at risk of becoming a luxury

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said a failure to address issues impacting health service dentistry will only add to pressures on the Health Service in future.

Health Paula Bradshaw

The MLA has called for a renewed Oral Health Strategy and a Dental Workforces Plan from the Department of Health, as well as outlining her support for a cost of service review. 

The British Dental Association (BDA) has written to the Permanent Secretary of the Department to request such a review and warned of the implications of further cuts to the dental system. The organisation added without investment the service faces collapse. 

“It is clear dental professionals and services are under unprecedented pressures, which are widening inequalities and having a huge impact on oral health, including cancer referrals,” said Ms Bradshaw. 

“The current system is unsustainable and fees payable are not keeping up with the cost of treatment, causing this shift toward private care. A recalibration is desperately needed, and I support the BDA’s request for a cost of service review. We also need to look at contracts to make NHS dentistry viable for practitioners and address the growing pay gap, otherwise, we will continue to see a reduction in NHS care, a lack of access and dentists leaving to seek better conditions elsewhere. 

“Earlier this year, I wrote to the Permanent Secretary to outline my own concerns and call for an updated Oral Health Strategy and the long-promised Dental Workforce Plan. These are essential to tackling the sustainability challenges facing dentistry in Northern Ireland and, like all such decisions on public services and finances, should be led by a restored Executive.  

“Without immediate action from the Department, we risk dental health and hygiene becoming a inaccessible luxury to our most vulnerable. We need to understand a failure to address problems now will only add to the pressures on our health service in the future.”