The NHS is planning reforms to ensure 'everyone who needs a dentist will be able to see one'.

As previously reported, more than half of people in Dorset had not visited an NHS dentist in the past two years.

There are currently no dentists in Dorset taking on patients for NHS treatment. There are a handful of dentists listed on the NHS Find My Dentist website that are taking on NHS patients, but only for specialist dental care by referral.

Earlier this year, the government announced a string of reforms for NHS dentistry services for the country after a national surge in dental practices cancelling their NHS contracts as dentists feared they were losing money.

One of the three components for this plan is to ‘significantly expand access’ this year so that everyone who needs a dentist will be able to see one.

The plan also looks to support and develop the whole dental workforce, increasing workforce capacity as part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.

NHS Dorset said that they were ‘aware’ of what they described as ‘extensive waiting lists’ for the services and are looking to address the situation by prioritising the areas that need it most as well as areas where NHS contracts have been handed back.

A spokesperson for NHS Dorset, said: “Earlier this year NHS England and the Department of Health set out their plans to reform NHS dentistry.

“We (NHS Dorset) along with regional NHS partners are planning to implement these reforms, prioritising new or additional NHS provision in areas where we have had contract hand backs, reduced NHS access and areas of most need in the first instance.”

The NHS in Dorset have also commissioned additional urgent dental care appointments that patients can access by calling 111. There are now 35 additional appointments in the Dorset area each week following this move.

Additionally, the NHS in Dorset are trying an initiative to increase the number of training places over the next five to 10 years and are supporting existing dentists in the South West through a peer review project to help them feel more supported. In Somerset and Cornwall, nurses are being supported to undertake apprenticeships.

Local councillor and Weymouth GP Jon Orrell said more needs to be done.

He said: “I warmly welcome the move from local authorities to increase dental provisions across the county, however it remains inadequate.

“The Government only funds enough for half the population to receive dental care without paying, but it should be 100 per cent.

“People have been putting appointments off and trying to fix things themselves, but this can make things far worse. Speaking as a GP, we do our best we are not dentists.

“People have really suffered from the contract change 20 years ago and there needs to be a total rewrite.”

More information on the NHS plan to reform NHS dentistry is available from the website: