THERE is no crisis in NHS dental provision, Health Minister David Anderson told MHKs – and vacancies for salaried dentists will remain unfilled for the time being.
He was quizzed in the House of Keys by Bill Henderson (Douglas North) over waiting lists for NHS dentist.
Mr Henderson asked: ‘What on earth is the minister doing with regard to the ever-increasing dental waiting lists at the minute, where people cannot even get allocated to an NHS dentist – they are just put on the central list – and can he give us some inkling of how he is going to manage the crisis?’
Mr Anderson replied: ‘I do not believe there is a crisis.’
He said the most recent advert placed in the local press and the British Dental Journal for salaried dentists was in March 2010 but towards the end of last year, his department did receive approaches from individual dentists inquiring about possible employment opportunities.
As a result, further adverts were placed in the Job Centre and on the department’s website in September and December 2010, which resulted in three further appointments, two of which were limited-term posts.
Mr Henderson claimed that some people have been on that central list for well over a year.
The minister replied: ‘I am pleased to say and that the number of people on the waiting list is actually falling and that if you actually go back in time to five or six years ago, we had several thousand people on the waiting list.
‘I think the position has improved considerably by the introduction of salaried dental services directly employed by the department. However, we have had a review of services, which does recommend some changing of the service and the way in which they are delivered. Within those recommendations, it is intended to change the service a little bit in certain areas to take the pressures off.’
He said, however, that the decision had been taken not to recruit the 1.8 current vacancies which remain, until full consideration of the independent review had taken place.
Brenda Cannell (Douglas East) asked when the findings of the review would be published.
Mr Anderson said the finding of the review would be made available to members.
He added: ‘Suffice to say that there are more people now on the dentist list [i.e. with an NHS dentist] than there have ever been before.’