ECHO COLUMN: Our NHS Dentistry is at breaking point
SHARON HODGSON: Our NHS Dentistry is at breaking point thanks to the Conservatives.
NHS dentistry is at breaking point. This Conservative Government has consigned yet another public service to the scrap heap, and patients in Sunderland are once again paying the price.
In the midst of the worst ever cost-of-living crisis, the Government has added to people’s financial pressures with 8.5 % price hike to everyone in Sunderland’s dental costs.
The cost of band 1 treatment, such as a check-up, will increase from £23.80 to £25.80, while dental work in band 2, such as a filling, will increase from £65.20 to £70.70 and band 3 treatment, such as dentures, will increase from £282.80 to £306.80.
It is clear, price rises are a symptom of a sustained lack of Government investment.
This price hike is a political choice that will affect ordinary working people who require dental care. Access to a dentist should not be a luxury, it is an integral part of a functioning NHS. These choices are being made by the Prime Minister and his billionaire buddies, who have never had to worry about the cost of anything or understand the effect this record increase will have on the cost-of-living pressures facing ordinary people. I plan to speak in Parliament today in a debate on dentistry to raise the failings of successive Tory Governments because with the Conservatives in power, you’re paying more, and getting less.
This hike won’t put a penny into NHS dentistry, it will just force millions to reconsider whether they can afford necessary dental treatment. Sadly, widening health inequality is already making dentistry unaffordable for many, never mind the problems with accessing any dental care in the first place as more and more practices close their doors to NHS patients. Constituents have written to me in dire need, despair and sometimes pain when they are unable to find an NHS dentist and unable to afford a private one. The Conservatives have overseen millions of pounds of cuts to NHS dentistry, and have left in place a woefully inadequate NHS dentistry contract in need of reform since 2010, even though they knew it was not fit for purpose as they have been warned by dentists for over 13 years that this crisis in dentistry would happen.
This record increase in charges means that some treatments will now be £100 more expensive in England than in Wales, where Labour are in power and support ordinary people over millionaires.
That’s the difference that a Labour Government can make.
The Government have a duty to explain why patients in Washington and Sunderland must pay over £100 more for exactly the same NHS care, and that is if they can get any treatment at all.
Tory mismanagement leaves dental care a luxury for the few.
A Labour Government would prioritise healthcare access for all.
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