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MP secures minister’s promise over NHS contract to fix Cumbria’s dental crisis

July 4, 2019 9:29 AM

Local MP Tim Farron has today secured a commitment from the Government to roll out a new NHS contract to Cumbria to address a serious shortage of NHS dentists in the county.

During a debate in Parliament this morning secured by Tim, he said that the situation had reached breaking point with over half of all adults in Cumbria unable to see an NHS dentist in the past two years, whilst over 1 in 3 children in the county currently don't have a place with an NHS dentist.

Tim described the severe consequences of this crisis with children across Cumbria having some of the worst dental health in England. One in three children in Cumbria suffer from tooth decay by the age of five according to the British Dental Association.

Tim urged the minister to take 'urgent action' to address the situation by changing the NHS contracts to make them more attractive.

Speaking during the debate, Tim said: "The current system is unjust, not fit for patients, not fit for dentists and not fit for purpose.

"Urgent action needs to be taken to roll out a system that would fairly reward dentists for the work they do.

"That would include incentives for preventative work. And that would allow all dental practitioners to use their skills to their full capacity. If we want our NHS dentists to feel their vital work is valued and to be encouraged not to move into working privately, then we need to take swift and far reaching action.

"For those of us in Cumbria we are seeing the colossal impact of the current system on the health of both children and adults alike - and we are further affected by the huge distances we have to travel if we are lucky enough to stumble upon an NHS dentist with an available space."

In response, the health minister Seema Kennedy said that the current NHS contract was "brought in with a little too much haste and now we're living with the consequences".

She said that the Government was working closely with NHS England to reform the dental contract and said she was "hopeful" that the rollout of a new contract - which is currently being piloted by over 100 NHS practices - will happen "as soon as possible".