Political row over dental services

Political rivals in Filton have clashed over local dental services.

Labour’s candidate to be MP at the next election, Claire Hazelgrove, said a survey carried out by her party suggested local people are finding it impossible to find an NHS dentist, an issue previously reported in Filtonvoice.

She criticised Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti for voting against a Labour proposal aimed at creating more dental appointments and reform of the current dental contract to ensure everyone can access treatment.

Mr Lopresti hit back, saying the Labour plan ‘focused on negativity’ and that a Conservative plan would expand NHS dentistry training places by 40%.

He said the Labour motion was ‘meaningless’.

Ms Hazelgrove said: “New figures revealed that, of the eight dental surgeries who have provided a recent update in the Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency, none are currently accepting any new adult or child patients.

“Despite this growing issue in the area, Jack Lopresti voted against the motion.”

The motion tabled by Labour 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

Ms Hazelgrove added Labour would fund their 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.

Mr Lopresti said: “Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party put an opposition motion to the House of Commons which was meaningless and had no means to change government policy.

“It did not consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had on the NHS and Britain’s economy and society. But crucially, it offered no plan and merely pointed to issues and focused on negativity.

“While Labour offers no plan to fix or fund NHS-funded dentistry, the Conservatives have published the NHS’s first ever Long-Term Workforce Plan which has committed to expand NHS dentistry training places by 40 per cent, alongside encouraging dentists to spend more time delivering NHS care.

“Instead of indulging Labour’s empty words, it is this plan with long-term thinking which must be given a chance to succeed.”

Ms Hazelgrove added: “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.

“Patients in communities across the Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency 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, the current Conservative MP voted against it.

“Like many, I don’t have an NHS dentist myself and I know and share the worry that can cause.

“I was grateful to the Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting MP, for speaking on my behalf in the House of Commons in support of doing so, and to share the story of a lady in Filton.

“Her and her father’s dentist went private and cancelled their appointments, having recently diagnosed her with dental disease and her elderly father, who has dementia, as needing a tooth removed so that he could eat. This is not what local people should expect.”