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  • Writer's pictureDan Heley

Penrose fails to support Dentistry Rescue Plan

Weston MP John Penrose fails to vote for Dentistry Rescue Plan despite dentists in Weston shutting the door to new patients.

John Penrose MP failed to vote for a motion in the House of Commons to rescue NHS dentistry, despite local patients finding it impossible to see a dentist and his previous calls for dental practice wait times to be reduced

The motion tabled by the Labour Party proposed:

· 700,000 more urgent dentistry appointments

· Incentives to recruit dentists to the areas most in need

· Supervised toothbrushing in schools for three- to five-year-olds

· Reform of the NHS dental contract so everyone who needs a dentist can get one

Image: Labour Party

Labour say they would fund the plan by abolishing the non-dom tax status, a tax break which allows wealthy people who live and work in Britain to pay their taxes overseas.

The vote came as new figures revealed that, of the seven dental surgeries that provided a recent update in Weston-super-Mare, not one is currently accepting any new adult patients.

Despite this growing issue in the area, John Penrose MP failed to turn up to vote for the motion.

The collapse of NHS dentistry has left millions of patients unable to get an appointment when they need one. Analysis of patient survey data suggests that last year, 4.75 million people were either told there were no appointments available or the practice wasn’t taking on new patients, when they last tried to book an appointment.

Healthwatch England has reported horror stories of people forced to pull their own teeth out, with 1 in 10 Brits claiming to have attempted their own dental work.

A recent report from the Nuffield Trust warned that, under the Tories, NHS dentistry “is at its most perilous point in its 75-year history,” and suggested that it may no longer be offered to all patients. The government has launched a pilot in Cornwall where NHS dentistry will only be offered to children and the most vulnerable.

Daniel Aldridge - Weston Labour Party policy officer

Daniel Aldridge, Policy Officer at Weston Constituency Labour Party said: "Patients in Weston are finding it impossible to see a dentist, with some having to resort to DIY dentistry. Yet when the chance came to do something about it, John Penrose MP couldn’t even be bothered to show up.

This is despite his public commitment in October to ‘Keep pushing’ Ministers on what they’re doing to provide more NHS dentistry in Weston. On behalf of Weston Labour party, I’ve launched a survey of residents’ experiences of accessing dentistry and we’ll work hard to pressure the Government to save NHS dentistry in Weston”

Cllr. Catherine Gibbons, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Children's Services, Families and Life Long Learning, North Somerset Council said; "The consequences of this crisis in NHS dentistry are appalling with our children suffering some of the worst consequences, and those in care, care leavers and our SEND children facing additional barriers."

Cllr Catherine Gibbons

"Poor dental health plays a direct role in other diseases in later life such as heart disease and IBS. All our children deserve a good healthy start in life.

Under the Conservatives, NHS dentistry is dying a slow death with private treatment often the only option for those who can afford it."

"Dentists are leaving the NHS in droves, and like Weston, huge parts of the country are dental deserts, where no practice is taking on NHS patients.

Unlike the Tories, Labour believes healthcare should be available to all who need it."

John Penrose MP

Mr Penrose said: "I’m absolutely delighted Labour now agrees with me that our NHS dentistry needs improving, as it’s something I’ve been badgering Ministers about for ages.

"We’ve had a huge increase – 40 per cent - in the numbers of dentists being trained up, and there were over six million more courses of NHS dental treatment delivered last year than the year before, but there’s a huge backlog because almost no-one saw a dentist during the pandemic.

"We need a new NHS dentist contract as well as an immediate recovery plan to get things moving much faster. That’s exactly what Ministers promised yesterday, and I shall be voting for it when it arrives in Parliament."



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