Are we surprised – with the costs involved – that research shows 44% of local children have not seen an NHS dentist during the past year. This represents a staggering 76,661 children in the region.
If we are talking about adults then 62 per cent – within the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board – have not been seen by a NHS dentist in the last twelve months.
The research was commissioned by the Liberal Democrats from the House of Commons Library. The party is calling for a boost to NHS dentistry and cuts to VAT on children’s toothpaste.
It comes as the Liberal Democrats are set to adopt their pre-election manifesto at their autumn conference this weekend, including a commitment to reform NHS dentistry so that no one is forced to pay hundreds of pounds for private care.
The party is also calling for an emergency rescue plan for NHS dentistry, including spending any funding that has gone unspent in recent years to boost the number of appointments as well as the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse said:
“Every parent knows how important it is to ensure that their children can see a dentist regularly. Leaving children in pain can disrupt their eating, sleeping and learning. The number of adults missing out on NHS dental care is also shockingly high.
“This Conservative government has shown a total disregard for every aspect of our health service. As a result, the people of Bath and the surrounding area are now living in a ‘dental desert’, unable to access NHS dental services.
“These alarming figures should be a wake-up call for the government. A rescue package for our area’s dentistry is urgently needed. That means reforming NHS dentistry to boost the number of appointments along with removing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.”
The research from the House of Commons Library can be found here.
Tooth decay is the leading cause of hospital admissions for children aged 6-10: information can be found here.
It has previously been estimated that the NHS budget is set to be underspent by a record £400m this year, due to a shortage of dentists willing to take on NHS work.