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Fix the NHS Dentistry Crisis

Simon Lightwood, Labour Member of Parliament for Wakefield, has renewed his calls for more action to help people struggling to access NHS dental services.

This comes following the political party conference season where Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, pledged to reform NHS dentistry if Labour wins the next general election.

Speaking on the eve of the Labour Party conference, Mr Starmer pledged that a Labour Government will provide an extra 700,000 urgent dentist appointments. He said Labour would also reform the NHS dental contract to increase dentist retention as well as a campaign of supervised toothbrushing in schools for 3–5-year-olds and other measures focused on prevention.

In February, Wakefield’s MP launched ‘Save Wakefield’s Smiles’. This is a campaign to highlight the lack of access to NHS dental care in Wakefield. Research conducted by Mr Lightwood’s office showed that in February 2023, no practice in the Wakefield constituency was admitting new NHS patients.

Earlier this year, Mr Lightwood used his very first Prime Minister’s Question (PMQ) as the MP for Wakefield to highlight the plight of one of his constituents whose 6-year-old daughter was consistently crying in pain due to her teeth. She had never been to a dentist and had several teeth black with decay. Across Wakefield over 25% of five-year old’s have visible tooth decay.

Mr Lightwood said that this type of story is becoming the norm. Brandon, another Wakefield constituent has made over 200 calls to dentists within approximately 50 miles of Wakefield trying to register at an NHS dentist. He says that every single one he has phoned have told him that they are not taking on new NHS patients.

Simon Lightwood MP said,

“The crisis in NHS dentistry is a national scandal. Successive Conservative Governments have presided over 13 years of underfunding of NHS dentistry.”

“It’s a damning indictment on the Tories that the most common reason children between 6 and 10 go to hospital is due to tooth decay.”

“People in Wakefield, Horbury and Ossett have been left to sink or swim with no plan from this government on how to turn it around.”

“Labour’s plan will address the immediate crisis and target the areas most in need. We will also, like with the rest of our NHS plan, focus more resources on prevention. We will give our youngest generation access to supervised toothbrushing in schools. Labour will make sure that everyone who needs an NHS dentist can get one.”


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