Report number: OAS/WS/22/005
Councillor Margaret Marks, the Council’s appointed representative on the Suffolk County Council Health Scrutiny Committee presented report number OAS/WS/22/005.
The report, prepared by Councillor Margaret Marks, set out what was considered at its meeting held on 26 January 2022. The primary focus of the meeting was to consider:
- Dentistry Services in Suffolk and make recommendations for improvements.
Attached to the report were the following appendices:
- Appendix 1: Covering report from Councillor Margaret Marks from the meeting of the Health Scrutiny Committee held on 26 January 2022.
- Appendix 2a: Agenda Item 5 – Access to Dentistry in Suffolk
- Appendix 2b: Evidence Set 1 – East Suffolk Council Scrutiny Committee report on Dentistry
- Appendix 3: Evidence Set 2 – Healthwatch Suffolk Dentistry Report
Councillor Marks informed the Committee that the biggest problem was that 50% of children had not seen a dentist, as they were unable to register with a dentist.
Councillor Marks explained that NHS England was the only body which had the power to change everything. The budget would follow the service to the clinical commissioning. However, that money was now not available until next year, meaning we had a year to make NHS England improve its service and adopt some of the Health Scrutiny recommendations. Some of the work was now happening, but only through default. There needed to be a change in the dentist contracts; making sure the paperwork for overseas dentists was not onerous; getting dentists back into schools; supporting dentists better and providing the support they needed.
The Committee considered the report in detail and asked questions to which Councillor Marks provided comprehensive responses. In particular discussions were held on the number of bodies involved in dentistry; needs assessments; and whether there was a shortage of private dentists.
In response to a question raised that if you do not see a dentist for two years, you drop of the register, Councillor Marks explained that in reality there was no registration or continuity of care. One of the recommendations made by the Health Scrutiny Committee was that people should be able to register with an NHS dentist. The current dentist contract did not support people going to the dentist regularly, which was unacceptable.
In response to a question raised regarding dental contracts, Councillor Marks explained that there needed to be a national policy to make things right. The will was there, but just needed to get NHS England onboard.
In response to a question raised about NHS dentist income, Councillor Marks stated that the biggest problem was with dentists leaving the NHS due to the low income and they did feel respected in their profession. They were not allowed to use some of their skills in the NHS, only in private practice. Some dentists were up skilling some of their nurses to do for example, x-rays and dental cleaning.
There being no decision required, the Committee noted the report on the Suffolk County Health Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 26 January 2022 from Councillor Margaret Marks, and in particular supported the work being carried out by the Health Scrutiny Committee around the provision of dentistry services in Suffolk.