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Dentists to be offered cash to take on new patients, leaked plans suggest

Dentists are to be offered cash to take on new patients and given “golden hellos” to work in communities with a lack of NHS dental services, according to leaked plans.

The NHS Dental Recovery Plan was supposed to be published on Wednesday but an early version of the document was sent out to MPs of all parties accidentally.

The email, seen by the BBC, includes a number of details set out in the plan, including:

– A £200 million investment in dental services.

– Dentists being given cash to take on new patients.

– Cash incentives to encourage dentists to work in areas which are underserved by NHS dentists. Some 240 dentists will be give £20,000 “golden hellos” if they deliver care in these communities for at least three years.

– A new Smile For Life initiative to encourage healthy tooth-brushing habits.

Hundreds of people were seen queuing in Bristol on Monday and Tuesday after a dentist opened its books for NHS patients.

A video posted on social media on Monday appeared to show police community support officers telling patients the queue had “finished” as they urged prospective patients to try their luck another day.

Commenting on the leaked document, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “After 14 years of Conservative neglect, patients are desperately queuing around the block to see a dentist, literally pulling their own teeth out, and tooth decay is the number one reason for six to 10-year-olds being admitted to hospital.

“The Conservatives are only promising to do something about it now there’s an election coming. It will be left to the next Labour government to rescue NHS dentistry and get patients seen on time once again.”

The British Dental Association said claims that the reforms would generate “millions” of new appointments appeared to lack credibility.

“None of the modelling supporting these claims has been published,” a spokesperson said.

“The professional body is struggling to see how the whole package delivers more appointments, when most of the funding is drawn from recycling existing budgets.

“There is nothing in the plan to draw dentists back into NHS dentistry to enhance workforce capacity.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said: “The image of hundreds of desperate people queuing outside a new dentist in Bristol tells you everything you need to know about the state of dental practices in this country.

“This plan comes too little too late for those left waiting in pain for dental care or the children admitted to hospital for tooth decay.

“With over 12 million waiting for help, this pledge to help just one million is a drop in the ocean and shows the Government isn’t serious.

“The Conservatives have overseen years of dental decay and now it’s people across the country who have been left to pay the price.”

The Department for Health and Social Care has been approached for comment.