Dental plan 'too little too late'

15 Feb 2024
Gideon dental graphic.

The research, commissioned from the House of Commons Library, estimates the number of children who weren’t seen by an NHS dentist in the year to June 2023, based on the latest data from the health service.

It shows a staggering 48.7% of children who had not been seen by a dentist in Somerset over the 12-month period.

A total of 59% of adults in the county had not been seen by an NHS dentist in the two years to June 2023. That equates to more than 250,000 people who went without NHS dental care over a 24-month period.

The Government’s new Dental Plan will see cash incentives for NHS dentists, mobile dental services and dental teams visiting schools and nurseries.

It has previously been estimated that the NHS budget was underspent by a record £400m last year, due to dentists not finding it economic to take on NHS work.

The Lib Dems are calling for a dental healthcare rescue plan to boost the number of appointments.

The party are also calling for reforms to guarantee access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent and emergency care, ending DIY dentistry and “dental deserts”, and the removal of VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Gideon Amos, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Taunton and Wellington, said: “The government’s plans are too little too late for local families who have been left waiting in pain struggling to get a dentist appointment.

“It is appalling that so many children in our area are struggling to see an NHS dentist when they need to. We know that if children can’t access dental healthcare it can disrupt their eating, sleeping and learning.

“Instead of these half-baked reforms, we need a proper rescue package for dental healthcare. That means guaranteeing access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing emergency care, boosting the number of appointments and removing VAT on children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste.”

“Ironically the government is trying to offer sweeteners to dentists rather than giving the NHS dental contract the upgrade that’s desperately needed - and what’s more they’re only temporary sweeteners - presumably they hope these will see them through the coming general election after which NHS dentistry will be bound once again to be in decline - how cynical can you get!”

“Just like the Conservatives’ promised phantom new hospital for Taunton by 2030 their dental announcement is all pretty meaningless given they repeatedly break even their biggest manifesto commitments from the last election.

“Little wonder the British Dental Association has said the Conservatives are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – it’s time for the new deal for the NHS and social care which the Liberal Democrats stand for.”