Bradford South MP Judith Cummins has called on the Government to revise new NHS dentistry targets which she said were “undermining patient care”.

Judith asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock about the targets after being contacted by a whistle-blower from the UK’s largest dentistry chain – MyDentist – telling dentists to prioritise check-ups over providing treatment to patients in order to meet new NHS targets introduced as part of the pandemic response.

The British Dental Association has condemned the current targets for forcing dentists to prioritise volume over need. Since 1 January 2021 NHS practices in England have faced steep financial penalties for failing to hit 45% of their pre-pandemic activity levels. It is easier to achieve these perverse targets through routine care, as opposed to time consuming urgent treatment, that the BDA say need to remain a priority.

Speaking during a statement on Covid-19, Judith Cummins MP said:

“Despite assurances by the Secretary of State and the Minister, it is now clear that the newly imposed NHS dentistry targets are in fact actively undermining patient access to urgent treatments during the pandemic as I warned they would.

“Last week a whistle-blower at the UK’s largest dental chain with over 600 practices – MyDentist –  sent me an internal memo that advised them to prioritise routine check-ups over treatments in order to meet the new targets.

“Will the Secretary of State look at this urgently and agree to revise these targets to ensure they do not undermine patient care, as currently the system as it stands incentivises routine check-ups above those in severe pain?”

Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health, responded:  

“I want to thank our nation’s dentists who have worked incredibly hard to get dentistry services going again. It is very important that we support them and the financial incentives underpin the need to restart as much as is possible.

“It is of course challenging for to deliver dentistry services given there are so many aerosol generating procedures. I will ask the Dentistry Minister to speak to the hon. lady and perhaps meet with her to discuss the ongoing challenges.”

Speaking afterwards, Judith said: “Week in week out I’m contacted by people who need dental treatment. I am determined that the Government does not get this wrong by setting the wrong targets at the wrong time with the consequence of my constituents not being able to access an NHS dentist.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the Minister to explain this to her.”