John has won a reprieve for thousands of NHS dental patients after NHS England agreed to extend funding.

In January, Wentworth & Dearne MP John Healey warned the Government and NHS England that nearly 5,000 patients in the constituency would lose their NHS dentist if funding was allowed to run out at the end of March.

It would have left dental practices with no choice but to lay off staff and strike off patients, adding to pressure on hospitals.

The MP talked to dentists affected, built a case to continue the scheme then set this out for NHS bosses.

He followed this up with a meeting with NHS England’s had of co-commissioning on 16 February and has now received confirmation that the funding has been extended for six months.

NHS England said they would review the scheme and involve dentists to come up with a longer-term plan.

Mr Healey said: “This special scheme has meant nearly 5,000 patients with no dentist have been able to get dental check-ups and treatment over the last three years.

“It has been invaluable and its continuation is essential.

“Losing this funding would be a huge blow to people in our area and to our NHS, and I’m pleased NHS England is listening to me and to local dentists.

“Now we will work hard to secure the funding we need permanently.

“This scheme confirmed there is high demand for NHS dentists in our area, with practices taking on more new patients than expected.”

The Access to General Dental Services funding has meant 4,832 patients who previously had not been to a dentist in years – including children – have been able to get check-ups and treatment. They have been treated at practices across Rotherham in Wath, Swinton, Rawmarsh, Bramley, Thurcroft and Maltby.

The money was awarded in 2018 because the area had fewer people seeing a dentist and a higher level of deprivation.

Mr Healey has also requested a meeting with Jo Churchill MP, minister for public health and primary care.