More than 350,000 additional NHS dental appointments are to be made available to patients in England, as the UK government pledges to spend £50million to reduce the huge backlog caused by the disruption of Covid- 19.
An estimated 38 million appointments were missed when pandemic measures were tightened over the past two years.
The scheme, described by NHS England as a “treatment blitz”, sees dentists paid up to a third extra to work outside their normal practice hours.
This includes early mornings, evenings, and the biggest change of all, weekends.
However, the British Dental Association (BDA) has criticized the scale of the scheme, with practices already operating at full capacity.
Shawn Charlwood, chair of the BDA’s general dental practice committee, spoke out against the decision.
He said: “After a decade of cuts, a cash-strapped service risks being offered money that cannot be spent.
“Hard practices work against the clock and many will struggle to find capacity before April for this investment to make a difference.
“Until today, not a penny of the government’s multi-billion pound catch-up program has reached dentistry. This is progress, but it must only be the start if we are to rebuild a service on which millions of people depend.”
How to get a dentist appointment on the weekend?
Despite the news, most dental practices will still be closed on weekends, but you can check with your nearest NHS provider here.
According to official guidelines, it is not necessary to register with a dentist in the same way as with a GP, as you are not bound by a catchment area.
Just find a surgery that’s right for you and call reception to see if there are appointments available.
If the office is open on weekends, an appointment may then be offered.
Due to high demand, the practice you have chosen may not be able to take on new NHS patients and you may need to join a waiting list.
Alternatively, you may need to contact another provider or be seen privately – although the latter is unlikely to work on weekends.