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Parliament has now been dissolved until the General Election. There will be no Members of Parliament. Any reference to me being a Member of Parliament on this website will be historical. I am the Labour and Cooperative candidate for Wakefield and Rothwell constituency.

Urgent action must be taken to address the dental emergency in Wakefield & Rothwell

The dental emergency in Wakefield is a badge of shame for this Government. After 14 years of Conservative mismanagement, many people in Wakefield and Rothwell have been left frustrated and in pain, unable to access NHS dental care and forced into paying for costly private services. This is simply unacceptable. 

My Save Wakefield’s Smiles campaign is pushing the Government to take urgent action and address the dental emergency. Rishi Sunak pledged to ‘restore’ NHS dentistry, however, over 4 million people are unable to access NHS dental care, with real term spending on dental practices in England being cut by over a third over the past decade. Across the country, adults are finding themselves dropped from NHS lists, and increasingly going longer and longer between their regular check-ups. Over 40 million NHS dental appointments have been lost since the start of the pandemic, according to BDA estimates.

Our own research indicates that there are no dentists accepting new adult NHS patients in Wakefield.


Provision for children is no better, with over half of Wakefield’s children not having seen a dentist for more than a year. Shockingly, over half of Wakefield’s children have not seen a dentist in more than a year and 25% of our five-year-olds have some tooth decay.


This is no surprise, given 2,000 dentists quit the NHS in 2021, around 10% of all dentists employed in England.

This was entirely preventable. The crisis we are now in is due to 14 years of Tory mismanagement of the health service, like so many other public services in our country.


My work on this started almost immediately after my election, back in July, when I asked a question to the Department for Health and Social Care on the steps being taken to improve access to NHS dentistry in our community.

More recently, I pressed the Prime Minister at PMQs to take action after I was contacted by my constituent, Mr Faqirzai, whose 6-year-old daughter was in significant pain, having not been able to access an NHS dentist. Her teeth were black with decay and her father was desperate for support. The Prime Minister’s response, in the words of the British Dental Association (BDA), “Did not correspond to the reality facing millions of patients. There is no new funding, no new dentists and no new contract.”

Following my question, the Prime Minister wrote to me, but his reply clearly demonstrated that neither he, nor the Conservative Government, are facing up to the reality of the situation.

This fight has only just begun, and I will continue to spearhead our Save Wakefield’s Smiles campaign and lead the charge for better dental provision across our community. It is simply not good enough, and accessing regular and affordable dental care should not be this hard.

In efforts to bring pressure on the Government to act, I am asking local people, just like you, to join my fight to improve dental provision in Wakefield by signing my petition or by sharing your experiences.

Simon Lightwood MP

Member of Parliament for Wakefield / 

Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Wakefield & Rothwell

Labour has a plan for NHS dentistry

Tooth Exam

People are finding it impossible to get an NHS dentist when they need one. The consequences for patients are appalling.


Under the Conservatives, NHS dentistry is dying a slow death. Dentists are leaving the NHS in droves, and huge parts of the country are dental deserts, where no practice is taking on NHS patients.


Having overseen the managed decline of NHS dentistry for the past 14 years, now the government is looking at only providing NHS dentistry to children and the most vulnerable, with those who can afford it going private and those who can’t left with a poor service for poor people.


Unlike the Tories, Labour believes healthcare should be available to all who need it. We will take immediate action to provide care for those in most urgent need, and long-term reform to restore NHS dentistry for all who need it. Our plan will provide:


  • 700,000 more urgent appointments, for patients in need of things like fillings and root canals.

  • Incentives for new dentists to work in areas with the greatest need, to tackle the emergence of ‘dental deserts’.

  • Supervised toothbrushing in schools for 3–5-year-olds, targeted at the areas with highest childhood tooth decay.


Reform of the dental contract to rebuild the service in the long run, so NHS dentistry is there for all who need it. The plan will cost £111 million a year and is funded by abolishing the non-dom tax status, which allows people who live and work in Britain to pay their taxes overseas. Patients need healthcare more than the ultra-wealthy need a tax break.

We, the undersigned, demand the Government takes urgent action to address the chronic shortage of NHS dentist places in Wakefield and Rothwell.  

Thank You for signing the petition.

Tell your story 

I have had a number of constituents contact me with their harrowing experiences of NHS dentistry.  

It would be helpful to hear your personal experiences with NHS dental services as we build our case and strengthen our campaign to make NHS dentistry work for people in Wakefield.  

This will be invaluable as we continue to press the Government and show the devastating impact that the dental emergency has had on so many people. I would be grateful if you could fill in the below form and share your own story. 

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Image by Enis Yavuz

Thank You for sharing your story.

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