Issue - meetings

Update on NHS Dental Services

Meeting: 27/04/2022 - Adult Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Item 6)

Update on NHS Dental Services

Dental services was added to the committee’s work programme on 16 February. NHS England & Improvement will provide an update to the Committee.

Additional documents:


Terry Chikurunhe, Senior Commissioning Manager for NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) provided a verbal update to the committee covering the following areas:


  • The change in commissioning arrangements, moving from NHSE&I to the new Integrated Care System (ICS).
  • Key messages to address public confusion of dental services and the difference in patient lists when compared to GP doctors. Contractually, dentists provided treatment and then retained responsibility for that patient for two years afterwards, unless the patient had periodic ‘check ups’. 
  • The challenges for dentists throughout the Covid pandemic, the loss of services other than some urgent dental care.
  • Dentists continued to receive NHS funding throughout this period, providing they maintained services at a level set nationally. NHSE&I had a contractual monitoring role. 
  • Oral health promotion and work with the new ICS for Coventry and Warwickshire.
  • There were 65 dental practices within Warwickshire and five specialist orthodontic practices for children. South Warwickshire Foundation Trust provided secondary care for patients in the County, with George Eliot Hospital providing community dental services. Specialist and complex procedures were undertaken at the Birmingham dental hospital and children’s hospital. 
  • Dental services in Warwickshire performed well when compared to other areas of the Midlands region. However, there were some areas of the County with significant challenges for dental access, with Nuneaton and Rugby referenced. There were challenges in attracting dentists and nurses to work in rural areas. Reference to the work to promote NHS dentist services to practitioners. There were workforce challenges and some dentists chose to treat patients privately, even if the same premises were used for NHS services.
  • The planned strategic review of dental services. This would be based on population growth and tackling inequalities in current services.
  • Prior to the pandemic, 50 percent of the population accessed NHS dental services, with the other half either using private services or not having access to a dentist.
  • The pandemic impacted significantly on access to dentists, mainly due to infection control. Data was provided for Warwickshire. In December 2021, dental access was just below 44% of pre-pandemic service levels. Now the lower threshold for services was 62% of normal service levels, with one in 10 dental practices not achieving this level currently. 
  • Oral health improvement. Targeted work was taking place in Nuneaton, Bedworth and Rugby to address high incidences of children with tooth decay. A joint approach was taking place to encourage children through programmes like ‘brushing for life’ where education and toothbrush/paste were supplied. Reference also to training for care home staff so they could look after their residents. A move to more integrated services.
  • Fluoridation of water supplies. This was not preferred by all but was beneficial in preventing tooth decay.


A lengthy debate followed with the following contributions and themes:


  • The Chair requested that a written summary of the data be provided.
  • Further discussion about dental registration and the contractual obligations. After two years of initial treatment, a dentist was not contractually obliged to keep the patient registered. This was not widely  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6