Birkenhead MP slams government’s ‘dentistry crisis’

The Labour Member of Parliament for Birkenhead, Mick Whitley, has accused the Conservative government of presiding over a crisis in dentistry – with tooth decay forcing 295 patients to A&E at Wirral University Teaching Hospital Trust last year.

295 people were forced to attend A&E at Wirral University Teaching Hospital Trust last year due to dental decay, as patients across the country find it impossible to get an appointment with an NHS dentist when they need one.

At Wirral University Teaching Hospital Trust in 2022/23, 260 patients were seen in A&E with a dental abscess, caused by tooth decay, and 35 with dental caries.

Across the country last year, 67,000 patients attended emergency departments with tooth decay.

The MP said that the number of patients attending A&E with dental decay “speaks to the alarming decline of NHS dentistry.”

Labour’s analysis of patient survey data suggests that 4.75 million people across England were denied an appointment with an NHS dentist in the past two years.

Figures show millions of people were either told no appointments were available or that the practice they contacted was not taking on new patients. The inability for patients to access dental healthcare has forced many into A&E departments when their conditions have worsened.

Currently, tooth decay is the most common reason for children aged 6-10 to be admitted to hospital.

Mick Whitley MP said, “Millions of people are being denied an appointment with an NHS dentist when they need it.

“At Wirral University Teaching Hospital Trust, patients are being forced into A&E with tooth decay, as they have nowhere else to turn.

“Labour will rescue NHS dentistry from this crisis, so people can get an appointment when they need one. We will provide 700,000 more appointments a year to those in the most urgent need and recruit more dentists to areas with the worst shortages.”

A Labour government has pledged to provide an extra 700,000 urgent dentists’ appointments and reform the NHS dental contract, as part of a package of measures to rescue NHS dentistry.

Labour’s plans to restore NHS dentistry to all who need it include:

  • Funding NHS dental practices to provide 700,000 more urgent appointments, for patients in need of things like fillings and root canal
  • Incentives for new dentists to work in areas with the greatest need, to tackle the emergence of ‘dental deserts’ where no NHS dentists are taking on new patients
  • Supervised toothbrushing in schools for 3-5 year olds, targeted at the areas with highest childhood tooth decay
  • Reform the dental contract to rebuild the service in the long-run, so NHS dentistry is there for all who need it

The plans will cost £111 million a year in total and be funded by abolishing the non-dom tax status, which allows people who live and work in Britain to pay their taxes overseas.

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