Health Minister Robin Swann hopes £9.2 million investment for dental access will ease some of the pressures on practices as 6% pay uplift for dentists is also confirmed

Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a £9.2million investment in dental access initiatives for 2024/25, plus a 6% pay uplift for dentists for the current financial year.
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The investment is aimed at bolstering support for dental practices and protecting public access to health service dental care.

The 6% pay uplift will also be backdated to April 2023 and is in line with the recommendations from the DDRB (Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body).

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The increase comes with a 7.3% uplift to non-staff expenses for 2023/24, with a 3% recurrent award in future years.

Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a £9m in dental access initiatives for 2024/25Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a £9m in dental access initiatives for 2024/25
Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a £9m in dental access initiatives for 2024/25

The £9.2m investment package for dental services includes:

· £1m for newly registered child patients through the reestablishment of the Enhanced Child Examination Scheme. This scheme provides children aged 0-10 who have not been registered with a dentist with an examination, individualised oral health advice and age-specific fluoride application to teeth to assist with preventing dental decay.

· £4.3m to fund a 30% enhancement to fees paid to dentists for health service fillings, extractions and root canal treatment for 2024/25. This will support public access to priority treatments.

· £3.9m for the treatment of high priority unregistered patients through a Dental Access Scheme;

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The Minister said: “It is important that people in Northern Ireland have access to a dentist when needed. These interventions are designed to remove some of the barriers that are limiting that access.

“I am extremely grateful for the commitment and effort shown by General Dental Practitioners and their teams through the challenges faced over the last few years. I hope that this investment eases some of the pressures on practices and emphasises the importance of the service being provided. It is essential that we have a service that works for both the profession and patients.

“I am also pleased to be announcing the pay uplift for dentists. As with other health service workforces, this had been delayed by the absence of an Executive. I am happy to be able to now put that situation right.”

The Minister also provided an update on the proposed changes to the EU laws relating to dental amalgam and his concerns regarding the implications for Northern Ireland.

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He stated: “My view remains that a phase down in line with the wider UK position, rather than a phase out, of amalgam is in the best interests of patients in NI. This is a matter for the new Windsor Framework Democratic Scrutiny Committee to consider in detail, in terms of impacts in Northern Ireland.”

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