Shocking figures revealed in a new health survey reveal that only one dental surgery out of 74 in the Tees Valley accepts new adult NHS patients.
In the data collated via NHS dental practice updates, not a single surgery in the boroughs of Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington and Redcar and Cleveland state they now accept new adult NHS patients. In Stockton, only one surgery said it accepted new adult patients in the Stockton North constituency, with zero in Stockton South.
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.
In response to the dental crisis, a motion was tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday by the Labour Party which 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
Labour 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.
Labour’s Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham used the debate to raise the issue of oral health for women during pregnancy and voted for the measures to help patients.
However, nine out of the North East’s 10 Conservative MPs voted against a solution to rescue NHS dentistry. The MP for Stockton South, Matt Vickers, failed to attend Parliament and his Facebook page reveals he was absent from the vital vote in Parliament because he was delivering Tory Party leaflets instead.
In response to Matt Vickers MP’s absence from this vote, Labour’s candidate for the new seat of Stockton West, Joe Dancey, said:
“Teesside has become a dental desert thanks to this government. In recent weeks, I’ve met local men and women struggling to access NHS dentistry from Ingleby Barwick and Middleton St George and beyond.
“One lady in Elm Tree suffering a dental abscess was removed from the NHS list then forced to pay privately to end the pain. Another in Eaglescliffe told me she’s forced to drive to Bishop Auckland to access dental care. Matt Vickers should have turned up to vote in Parliament instead of delivering party leaflets whilst his constituents are suffering.”
Wes Streeting, Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary said:
“Patients across Teesside, Hartlepool and Darlington 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, Conservative MPs put loyalty to the whip over loyalty to North East voters.
“Another five years of the Conservatives will see NHS dentistry gone for good. Labour has a plan to rescue NHS dentistry from this crisis and get patients seen on time again. We will pay for it by abolishing the non-dom tax status, because people who live and work in Britain should pay their taxes here too.”
Labour MP for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham, was in Westminster raising the impact of pregnancy on local oral health. He told the House of Commons:
“After being told of the importance of seeing a dentist after suffering multiple miscarriages, a constituent tells me that she has been struggling for three years to see a dentist within a 50-mile radius of her home. Dentists say that they are going private and are helping only with emergencies. Surely that is evidence of a colossal failure of Tory Government dental policy, and even the most vulnerable are suffering.”
Labour parliamentary candidate for Redcar, Anna Turley, said:
“The lack of available dentists in Redcar and Teesside is a disgrace. Patients here are being directed to Thirsk and even Jarrow – this is a crisis.”
Labour parliamentary candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Luke Myer, said:
“It’s astonishing that the Tories voted against Labour’s plan to deliver 700,000 more dentistry appointments. Middlesbrough has some of the worst access to dental care in the country, with over half of children not getting the care they need. Fourteen years of Conservative government has let decay set in – it’s time for a change.”
The collapse of NHS dentistry has left millions of patients across Britain unable to get an appointment when they need one. Analysis of patient survey data suggests that 4.75 million people last year 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.
“Tooth decay continuing to be the most common reason for hospital
admission…” OHID – Hospital Tooth Extractions in 0 – 19 year olds 2022
• 1 in 10 people have attempted their own dental work, and Healthwatch England
report patients pulling their own teeth out with pliers
• Confirm which MPs voted for the motion here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2024-01-09/division/4842F42D-1575-45A5-B176-6CC46938DAA9/NHSDentistry?outputType=Names