Lack of NHS dentist access in Northumberland leads to hundreds of people going to A&E, Labour says
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Between April 2022 and March 2023, 410 patients were seen in Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital’s A&E with a dental abscess, caused by tooth decay, and 80 with dental caries.
Across the country last year, 67,000 patients attended emergency departments with tooth decay problems.
According to results of the NHS’ 2023 GP patient survey, an estimated 4.75 million people in England who tried to get an NHS dentistry appointment in the past 2 years were unable to, either because the practice was not taking new patients or no appointments were available.
Labour says the inability to access dental care is forcing patients to resort to emergency rooms.
Labour MP Ian Lavery, who represents Wansbeck, said: “Millions of people are being denied an appointment with an NHS dentist when they need it.
“In the Northumbria trust area, hundreds of patients are being forced into A&E with tooth decay as they have nowhere else to turn.
“Labour will rescue NHS dentistry from this crisis, so people can get an appointment when they need one.
“We will provide 700,000 more appointments a year to those in the most urgent need and recruit more dentists to areas with the worst shortages.”
Labour says it will provide £111m of extra funding, raised by abolishing the non-domiciled individual tax status, and renegotiate the contract between the NHS and dental practices to achieve this appointment increase.
The funding will also provide incentives for dentists to work in areas with high demand but no practices taking on new NHS patients.
The party also plans to introduce supervised tooth brushing in schools for children between three and five years old, particularly in areas with high childhood tooth decay levels.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it spends £3bn a year on NHS dentistry and it is increasing the payments dentists receive for high-need patients and for complex procedures.
It added that 18.1m adults were seen by an NHS dentist in the 24 months up to June 30, 2023, a 10% increase compared to the previous year.