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NHS dental van to serve rural communities in Lincolnshire under government reform plan

Rural communities in Lincolnshire will be getting a mobile dentistry service as part of a Government recovery plan.

Health secretary and county MP Victoria Atkins has announced that 15 dental vans will be rolled out over 11 areas including Lincolnshire to undertake simple treatments as part of a recovery and reformation programme.

Attracting dentists to this area has become a major problem and has left many residents unable to access an NHS practice. One South Holland dentist is quitting NHS work next year due to the overwhelming workload after being unable to recruit colleagues in three years of advertising.

Dental vans will be helping to improve patient access PHOTO: iSTOCK
Dental vans will be helping to improve patient access PHOTO: iSTOCK

Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board took over the responsibility for providing dentistry services from NHS England last year and is due to start work on a dental strategy which will include looking at local needs.

Mrs Atkins announced the changes – including additional payments for dentists along with tackling tooth decay in children – in the House of Commons on Wednesday, February 6.

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She said: “This year, we will deploy dental vans to more isolated, rural and coastal areas. Staffed by NHS dentists, they will offer check-ups and simple treatments such as fillings.

Health secretary Victoria Atkins at an earlier event Picture: Lauren Hurley
Health secretary Victoria Atkins at an earlier event Picture: Lauren Hurley

“This model has been a tried and tested success across many regions. For example, last year in Cornwall, a mobile van visited five harbours, treating more than 100 fishermen and their families.

“We will be rolling out up to 15 vans across Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Cornwall, North Yorkshire and Northamptonshire. This move has been welcomed by Healthwatch, the Nuffield Trust and the College of General Dentistry. We will let patients know when vans will be in their area, so they can get the care they need faster.”

The plan will see improvements to the dental contract – which was introduced by the Labour government in 2006 – to include a patient premium, workforce reforms to encourage more people into the profession along with a £20,000 ‘golden hello’ payment for new recruits.

It also aims to help tackle tooth decay in children after latest figures show that there were 47,581 cases of tooth extraction among youngsters during the 2022 and 2023 financial year.

Dental teams going into schools in the worst affected areas, oral health advice will be provided to parents in family hubs, supporting nurseries and consulting on expanding water fluoridation are part of the plans.

News of the improvements for Lincolnshire has been welcomed by South Holland and the Deepings MP Sir John Hayes.

He said: “It is very good news that we have this additional resource in Lincolnshire.”

A spokesman for Lincolnshire ICB said: “We’re still reviewing the plan and will provide further updates in due course, but clearly the plan is welcome news for the residents of Lincolnshire.”

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