Dentists could get 'financial incentive' to relocate

Dentists in the UK could be offered 'financial incentives' to relocate to Northumberland to improve treatment availability.

Berwick-upon-Tweed has seen two NHS dental practices close since the onset of the pandemic.

Councillors have been told by NHS officials that they are struggling in the search for a partner willing to deliver services, report the BBC.

Northumberland has been earmarked as a 'priority area' for workforce recruitment and retention in the face of a nationwide recruitment crisis in dentistry.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, a number of initiatives are being proposed to incentivise staff to relocate.

This includes financial compensation as well as supporting overseas dentists to meet demand.

Engaged with market

'Dental practices are open and operating normally. However, due to the pandemic and the delay in terms of access there's extremely significant demand, and demand for patients with high dental need,' said Pauline Fletcher, NHS England dental commissioning lead for the North East and Cumbria.

'It is more challenging in some of the rural communities. We have lost two contracts in Berwick since the pandemic. We've engaged with the market to try and find a provider but the interest has been disappointing.

'We do still want to replace the contract, but we will have to look at what that might look like.'

The BBC reports that the comments were made at a council meeting on Tuesday.

Recruitment troubles

This comes as dentistry battles one of the toughest recruitment crises in its history.

Labour MP Cat Smith (Fleetwood and Lancaster) wrote to ministers last month to highlight how its impacting dental nurses in particular.

In her letter to the Health Secretary Steve Barclay MP, she addressed the issues of pay and lack of recognition by the NHS of dental nurses. She also highlighted the current crisis in their recruitment and retention.

Gaby Bissett
09 March 2023