By Connor Steel
GOSPORT MP, Dame Caroline Dinenage, has attended an official meeting aimed at improving access to NHS Dentist services locally in her constituency and neighbouring Fareham; joining a round-table of representatives in Gosport for the discussion on Monday (June 27) alongside the Government’s current Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care Maria Caulfield and fellow dentistry leaders.
Mrs Caufield, herself the MP for Lewes in East Sussex since election in 2015 and former assistant Government whip, was specifically invited to the group event following recent complaints about access to dentist services in both local boroughs; something which has stemmed from a backlog after Covid-19 lockdown and the changes to processes such as booking appointments since March 2020.
Fellow attendees at the round-table event included Smile Dental Care Gosport (Rowner), MyDentist Gosport and Fareham Road Surgery, as well as representatives from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Dental Committee. All gave valuable and constructive insights into the challenges faced in the dentistry sector of the NHS; with more cross-department work pledged by the minister to improve access for local residents.
The meeting comes as Dinenage continues to campaign for improved healthcare access across the country and indeed locally; being inspired by her role as Minister of State at the Department of Health & Social Care under Prime Ministers Theresa May and Boris Johnson. The MP has also worked with both national and local stakeholders to ensure that improvements are made across crucial areas of the NHS.
Speaking in a post-meeting press release, the Gosport MP said: “I was very pleased when the Government Minister responsible for Dentistry, Maria Caulfield, accepted my invitation to visit Gosport. I was really keen for her to meet local dentists and those representing the dentistry sector across our region and to hear what life is like at the sharp end for those trying to deliver NHS dentistry and those patients trying to access it.”
“We know that this is a big problem across the Gosport and Portsmouth areas, it was an issue before Covid but now the system is approaching crisis point which is why I thought it was important for the Minister to hear what those on the frontline need to make the system better for both dentists and patients. I know the Government have invested a lot of money in this and are keen to get it right. The NHS Dentist contract that came into force back in 2006, has made life increasingly difficult for both dentists and patients.”
“The Government is keen to put this right and over the last few years they have been piloting various alternatives, however, not one of them has worked in the way they wanted, which is why I was really grateful to the Minister for taking the time to hear the solutions that local dentists are putting forward.
She concluded by adding: “I was also pleased that she confirmed some of these improvements will be announced in the coming months, which will make a big difference for both recruiting and retaining dentists in the NHS, and ensuring that local people can get the dentist care they need when they need it.”
PICTURED BY CAROLINE DINENAGE MP: Gosport-based round-table meeting in full flow on Monday.