“Sticking plasters” are being used to try to fix the Isle of Wight’s dental crisis including a mobile dental bus and asking existing practices to do more.
It comes as a long-term solution is in the works, which is hoped would increase the number of dentists on the Island.
The news arrives hot on the heels of a Newport practice announcing its closure and a Ryde surgery saying it would stop taking NHS patients.
Speaking on Monday, Natasha Taplin, the deputy place director for the Isle of Wight on the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board (ICB), said NHS dentistry was patchy and sparse on the Island but they were doing their best to quickly get to a place where they could stabilise the position.
The ICB took control of Island dentistry from NHS England around a year ago and it was hoped, with the decisions being made closer to home, the situation could start to get better.
Ms Taplin said their first intention was to not make the situation worse when they took over, and then start to improve it.
From a resident’s point of view, however, Cllr Michael Lilley, chair of the Isle of Wight Council’s health scrutiny committee, said dentistry seemed to be getting worse with practices closing or not taking on NHS patients.
He was concerned targeted action had taken place on the mainland but not on the Island, despite it being recognised by the health body that the Island was in an inferior position to Hampshire, Portsmouth or Southampton.
Actions are underway to help, Ms Taplin said, including a mobile dental bus coming to the Island in the new year providing treatments to residents on a prioritised needs basis.
The ICB is also trying to change the way dental services are commissioned as some practices are being paid differently for carrying out the same levels of service, but it was up to NHS England to approve.
It has also added more services for existing dentists to pick up.
Ms Taplin said it was by no means a solution, and the actions were just sticking plasters as there was more to be done, but it was a step in the right direction.
She said a draft dental strategy is currently being formalised and would provide long-term actions, including what it can do to build viable NHS dentistry on the Island and grow the workforce.