ANDOVER dentists and practice managers met the minister for public health to discuss the next steps to improve NHS dental services in the town.

During the meeting on Tuesday, October 31, minister Neil O’Brien heard from dentists about the obstacles and challenges they face in delivering NHS treatment. 

The meeting follows another between the town’s MP Kit Malthouse, the minister and Integrated Care Board (ICB), in which recruitment challenges were blamed for a lack of NHS dentists.

The latest discussion included specific solutions to improve both recruitment and patient services — such as speeding up the process to take on overseas qualified dentists and establishing a dedicated preventative service for children and young people. 

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Andover Advertiser: Andover's MP Kit Malthouse has highlighted the issue of NHS dentists in the townMr Malthouse said: "As you may know, I have been pushing for urgent action and intervention to improve the state of NHS dentistry services in Andover, and this was the latest in a series of meetings I set up with the key partners.

“The minister in charge is engaged and all over sorting this out, and he was keen to hear directly from local dentists on what support they need to boost delivery and meet demand in the constituency.

"We discussed incentives around the recruitment and retention of NHS dentists including pay, as well as speeding up the process of hiring qualified dentists from overseas.

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"I am very keen to see a preventative service dedicated for local children and young people, and we also looked at NHS dentists having the full offer of hygienists and dental therapists within their operation.

"We are expecting a national Dental Recovery Plan to be shortly published by government — and this was a useful opportunity for Andover dentists to contribute to it. I will now be pressing for the swift publication of this plan, as this seems to be the next big step forward required locally and nationally.

"The minister is listening, and we will sort this out."

According to the NHS website, two dentists in the Andover area are only taking NHS patients referred by another dentist, while the rest are not accepting new patients.