Dentists could get ‘financial incentive’ to relocate

Dentists could be offered “financial incentives” to move to parts of north Northumberland to boost capacity.

Two NHS dental practices in Berwick-upon-Tweed have closed since the Covid-19 pandemic, piling pressure on others.

An NHS official told councillors that attempts to find a partner willing to deliver services had been unsuccessful.

There are hopes to have a replacement for the two lost services by April 2024, but a meeting was warned it was unlikely to be any earlier.

The NHS has identified the north of Northumberland as a “priority area” for workforce recruitment and retention initiatives, aimed at “incentivising dentists to come to work in the area”.

This includes offering a “financial incentive”, as well as support for overseas dentists to meet NHS criteria, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

“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 have 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.”

Labour councillor Les Bowman, who sits on Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee, said the county was a “fantastic place to live”.

“I know parts of it can be remote, but that is its beauty as well,” he added.

The comments were made at a council meeting on Tuesday.


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