It used to be said that no one liked visiting the dentist, now many people would relish the chance to do so.
Dentistry is in crisis and this week Labour took the opportunity to raise concerns in a parliamentary debate. The vote came as new figures reveal the number of dental surgeries not currently accepting new patients. In my constituency alone, 11 are not accepting new adult patients and 8 are not accepting any new patients.
Across the country millions of patients are unable to get an appointment when they need one. Healthwatch England has reported horror stories of people being forced to pull their own teeth out and staggeringly rotting teeth is the number one reason children aged 6 to 10 are admitted to hospital and many who can afford it are forced to go down the private treatment route.
The Government promised a plan but failed to deliver one. Labour’s plan will provide 700,000 more urgent appointments for patients in need of things like fillings and root canal work. It would incentivise new dentists going to work in areas with the greatest need, of which the North East is one, and would provide for supervised toothbrushing in schools for 3-5 year olds targeted at areas with the highest levels of decay. The plan will cost £111 million which would be funded by abolishing non-dom tax status requiring people who live here to pay tax here.
Who would have thought that after the last 14 years being able simply to see a dentist when you need one seems such a radical idea?.