North East health bosses highlight challenges as NHS dental providers hand contracts back

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Health bosses in the North East have highlighted several challenges related to dental services, as NHS providers in the area hand contracts back.

Bosses in the North East and North Cumbria region admitted that there are significant difficulties in increasing capacity and enabling local people to access NHS dental services. One of the most worrying issues is finding NHS practices that are willing to take on an NHS contract. Statistics show that 12 contracts have been handed back in 2023 alone.

The director of the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, David Gallagher and dental commissioning lead, Stuart Youngman, suggested that dentists are increasingly reluctant to offer NHS services to patients. They called for national contract reforms to encourage more dentists to stay within the NHS and address issues that are pushing dental professionals towards private work.

At a recent meeting of the integrated care board, Mr Youngman said that the only option was to try to come up with short-term solutions to minimize risks to patients while waiting for country-wide reforms. When quizzed about why more practices are handing back NHS contracts, Mr Youngman and Mr Gallagher indicated that the NHS contract had been a concern for many years.

The comments come following the release of new figures, which showed that all of the regions with the highest number of dental procedures completed per 1,000 residents were located in the North of the country. The top four locations are all in the North East and include South Tyneside, Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

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