LOCAL MP Rebecca Pow welcomed the launch of the Government’s Dental Recovery Plan as part of its long-term plan to improve access to NHS dentistry and deliver on the Prime Minister’s commitment to cut waiting lists.

The plan was backed with £200 million of new Government funding and set out a package of measures to deliver 2.5 million additional NHS dental appointments over the next 12 months.

The Government wants to ensure treatment is available where it is needed most, and will expand preventative care for younger children to help reduce tooth decay.

Ms Pow, who represents the Wellington and Wiveliscombe areas, said the plan was ‘long overdue’.

She said: “I have met with many constituents and received much correspondence in terms of highlighting the lack of access to NHS dental provision in Taunton Deane.

“I met with the Dental Minister Dame Andrea Leadsom last week and made no bones about saying that many of my constituents were facing a completely unacceptable situation.”

Ms Pow said she had fed into the Government’s proposals to improve the situation and was delighted to see many of the measures would now be delivered through the new plan.

She said: “Everybody should be able to access NHS dentistry quickly and easily, and this plan will help to address many of the problems my constituents have faced in recent years.

“This new plan delivers immediate and long-term change to improve access to NHS dentistry and will help ensure that everybody can access the right care and stay healthy for years to come.”

To help improve access in the short term, the Government will launch new dental vans to reach more isolated communities, including in rural and coastal areas.

About 240 dentists will be offered one-off payments of up to £20,000 for working in under-served areas for up to three years, helping to attract new NHS dentists and improve provision of care in areas with the highest demand.

Further measures include introducing a ‘New Patient Premium’ payment to incentivise dentists to treat around a million new patients who have not seen an NHS dentist in two years or longer.

The scheme will be introduced within weeks, ensuring patients can benefit immediately.

The minimum value of activity will also increase from £23 to £28 and high-performing practices will also be able to deliver extra work on top of their contracted activity, ensuring that NHS work is more attractive to dental teams.

Trainee dental places will be expanded by 40 per cent as part of a first-ever NHS long term workforce plan, as the Government looks to target the expansion into areas of the country under-served by the dental workforce.

Expanded prevention care is also being rolled out for younger children to help reduce tooth decay and improve the nation’s oral health.

The Smile for Life programme will offer parents-to-be further advice for baby gums and milk teeth with babies and toddlers in nurseries having tooth brushing as part of the daily routine, so that every child in primary school will see tooth brushing as a normal part of their day.

The Government will also consult on wider reforms to the dental workforce and contract later this year, taking long-term decisions to ensure dental services can be there for families for the years to come.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “Dentistry is a priority for this Government.

“I know from my experience representing a rural and coastal constituency in Lincolnshire how frustrating it is for people who cannot get a dentist appointment, especially after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dentistry.

“We have seen big improvements over the past year, but now we are going much further.

“I am determined to deliver faster, simpler, and fairer access to NHS dentistry for patients – and this plan will help anybody who has not been able to see a dentist in the past two years to do so.

“The long-term decisions we are taking will help ensure that good oral health is available to all, wherever you live and whatever your background.”