A Government commitment to improve the oral health of the youngest children could be jeopardised if the shortfall in the dental public health workforce is not addressed, the British Dental Association (BDA) has warned.
Despite previous assurances that the many gaps in the Consultant in Dental Public Health (CDPH) workforce will be addressed, recruitment for a number of posts has yet to take place and it is not clear that the funding for it to commence is available.
The BDA has now written to Public Health England, the body responsible for recruiting for the vacant posts in the post-April 2013 NHS, urging action and reassurance that the funding for the posts remains available and they will be advertised imminently. Without a full CDPH workforce oversight and innovation in tackling wide-scale oral health problems will be lost, the BDA fears.
Dr Christopher Allen, the Chair of the BDAâ€™s Dental Public Health Committee, said:
â€œThere is a longstanding shortage of Consultants in Dental Public Health. Pre-April, approximately one-third of primary care trusts did not have access to CDPH advice.
â€œThe BDA has long campaigned for this to be addressed, and had been assured that further CDPHs would be recruited. The new commitment to improving the oral health of young children in the Public Health Outcomes Framework appeared further to signal the priority that was to be given to resolving the issue.
â€œHowever, the fact that recruitments are yet to take place, despite the advent of the new NHS architecture, raises anxieties. Public Health England must demonstrate its commitment to improving the oral health of the nationâ€™s youngest patients and move quickly to advertise these crucial posts.â€
Consultants in Dental Public Health are responsible for the development of widely heralded schemes such as Manchester Smiles that are instrumental in improving oral health on a community-wide basis.