Reforms to NHS Dentistry debate
Sharon Hodgson spoke in the Chamber on the state of our NHS dentistry system, after the Conservative double whammy of handing out a 8.5% price hike to everyone’s dental costs during the midst of the worst ever cost-of-living crisis – whilst also seeing the closure of the BUPA dental practice in Pennywell.
Everywhere you look you’re paying more and getting less under this Conservative Government.
We cannot accept that dental care becomes a luxury, available only to those who can afford it.
These are political choices being made by the Tory Prime Minister and his billionaire buddies, who have never had to worry about the cost of anything such as this, or understand the effect this record increase will have on the cost-of-living pressures facing ordinary people in the North East.
We need a Labour Government that will prioritise healthcare access for all, clean up 13 years of Tory under-funding and mismanagement, and abolish the Prime Minister’s precious non-dom status, to provide the treatment and dental care that the British people deserve.
We should not have to suffer because of Tory chaos and managed decline, that leaves dental care a luxury for the few.
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
Sadly we have been here before, time and again, and this Conservative Government still refuse to act, consigning yet another public service to the scrapheap. Once again my constituents are paying more and getting less under this Tory Government. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford South (Judith Cummins) and the hon. Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) for securing this very important debate. We need this crisis to be urgently addressed.
It cannot be denied any longer: we face an existential crisis in NHS dentistry. It really is at breaking point. The latest area in my constituency to be affected is Pennywell in Sunderland, where the Bupa branch will close its doors in June, affecting 7,800 NHS patients. Not a week goes by without correspondence from a constituent in dire need, in despair and often in acute pain, unable to find an NHS dentist and unable to afford a private one. The nearest NHS practice accepting new patients for those constituents is in South Shields, nearly an hour away from Pennywell on public transport. That is completely unacceptable.
We cannot accept dental care becoming a luxury available only to those who can afford it. To add insult to injury, during this Conservative cost of living crisis the Government have hiked dental care prices by 8.5%. Those choices are being made by the Prime Minister and his billionaire buddies, who have never had to worry about the cost of anything such as this and do not understand the effect that that record increase will have on the cost of living pressures facing ordinary people in my constituency and across the north-east. The hike will not put a penny into NHS dentistry, either; it will just force millions to reconsider whether they can afford necessary dental treatment. We risk the horror of DIY dentistry becoming the norm.
Across 13 years, the Conservatives have chosen millions of pounds of short-term cuts, but the long-term cost of health inequalities is a price my constituents will pay for generations. The Government chose not to listen to dentists and they knew that the woefully inadequate NHS dentistry contract was not fit for purpose. That is not a new problem. Make no mistake, not only are the Conservatives allowing this crisis to worsen, but their inaction suggests to me that this is actually the result they desire.
My constituents are furious, as am I. They are either forced to pay over £100 more for the exact same NHS care they could get under a Labour Government in Wales or they are left unable to access any treatment at all. We need a Labour Government who will prioritise healthcare access for all, clear up 13 years of Tory underfunding and mismanagement, and abolish the Prime Minister’s precious non-dom status in order to provide the treatment and dental care that the British people deserve. The people of Sunderland and Washington should not have to suffer because of Tory chaos and managed decline that leave dental care a luxury for the few.
See Sharon Hodgson MP's intervention on Twitter >