DEVON is to be given a dental van to help tackle the treatment crisis in hard-to-reach areas.

The county’s integrated care board (ICB) is one of just 15 in the country to receive a specialist vehicle which will be in use at some point in the next year.

Nigel Acheson, who is chief medical officer for NHS Devon, said the van would be part of the government’s dentistry national recovery plan, and would go to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents in the county.

Software would help map part of Devon most in need of dental services so the van goes to places where dentistry provision is worst. 

But there is no set date for it to start.

Mr Acheson said work is being undertaken to ‘streamline the advice and support people can get in an urgent situation’ through the 111 system and that the county is developing a plan to help alleviate pressure on the county’s dental services.

Speaking at Devon County Council’s health and wellbeing board, he said the county’s health service is looking to increase recruitment by targeting funding for dentists in areas that have historically struggled to hire and retain staff.

It also wants to pay a premium to dental practices to treat patients who haven’t seen a dentist for more than two years, and also offer one-off payments of up to £20,000 over three years for around 240 dentists working in under-served areas.