Labour propose new plan as dentists in Finchley and Golders Green shut door on new patients

If the party is elected, NHS Dentistry will have to ‘open wide’ for reform under Labour 

A dentist at work
Photo: RADAR

The Labour Party says it will introduce a dentistry rescue plan so patients can get an NHS dentist again, as new analysis reveals the overwhelming majority of practices have shut their doors to new patients.

Of the four dental surgeries who have provided a recent update in the Finchley and Golders Green constituency, none are currently accepting any new adult patients.

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.

Vast parts of England are now ‘dental deserts’, where no dentists are available.  

Labour is promising to take immediate action to provide care for those in most urgent need, and long-term reform to restore NHS dentistry to all who need it. The party’s plans include:

If elected, Labour in government pledges to fund NHS dental practices to provide 700,000 more urgent appointments, for patients in need of things like fillings and root canal. They will also put in place incentives for new dentists to work in areas with the greatest need, to tackle the emergence of ‘dental deserts’ where no NHS dentists are taking on new patients.

Labour says it will also introduce supervised toothbrushing in schools for 3-5 year olds, targeted at the areas in greatest need.

The plans will cost £111 million a year in total and be funded by abolishing the non-dom tax status, which allows people who live and work in Britain to pay their taxes overseas.

Sarah Sackman, Labour’s candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, said: “These shocking statistics lay bare the state of NHS dentistry in Finchley & Golders Green under the Conservatives.

“Labour’s fully-costed plan will get to the root of the problem, with more appointments and dentists in the places they’re needed most, and long-term work to restore NHS dentistry here in Barnet and across the country.”

Wes Streeting, Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “The Conservatives have left NHS dentistry to wither on the vine, and now the service is barely worthy of the name. Patients in London are told to go without or do it themselves, with DIY dentistry now shockingly common in Tory Britain.

“The slow death of dentistry is the Ghost of Christmas Future for the NHS, if the Conservatives are given a fifth term: those who can afford it going private and those who can’t left with a poor service for poor people. 

“Labour has a fully-costed plan to rescue NHS dentistry by gripping the immediate crisis and reforming the service in the long-term. We will provide 700,000 urgent appointments and recruit new dentists to the areas most in need, paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status.”

Last week, the Department of Health and Social Care told the BBC it would be publishing a dental recovery plan shortly.

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