Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing growing pressure from MPs to tackle the NHS dental crisis facing the country – by pledging money to improve access to services in today’s Budget.
Shipley MP Philip Davies said everyone who wants should be able to access good and local NHS dental provision.
Mr Davies said: “No one should be forced to pay for private dental treatment because they cannot get on an NHS list. Poor access to local NHS dentists has been a long standing problem in my constituency and across the Bradford district. The pandemic has exacerbated the problem and now access to NHS dentistry or wait times for an appointment are significantly longer. That is why I want to see action from Rishi in his Budget to ensure my constituents can get the healthcare they need in a timely manner.”
Mr Davies is one of a group of MPs – which also includes Bradford South MP Judith Cummins – urging the Chancellor to act as he delivers his Budget today.
It is believed more than 30 million dental appointments have been lost due to the pandemic, exacerbating the pre-existing crisis in accessing care.
In a letter to the Chancellor the MPs said: “Dentistry is now the number one issue raised with Healthwatch and our own mailbags can attest that lack of access to dental services is a problem felt in every corner of the country. Over 30 million NHS dental appointments have been lost due to the pandemic, with Healthwatch England and the BDA warning that this eye-watering backlog is not just causing huge difficulties in patients accessing timely care but will deepen health inequalities too.
“In past years, NHS dental budgets have failed to keep up with inflation and population growth. We understand none of the additional £5.4 billion announced last month to help tackle COVID-19 backlogs will be used to support our badly hit dental services. As NHS dentistry faces this unprecedented challenge, it is crucial that resources are in place to ensure the recovery, underpin promised reform, and guarantee the long-term sustainability of the service our constituents rely on.”
The plea comes after reports in the media of people pulling out their own teeth during the pandemic as they could not access a dentist, or if an appointment was available, they could not afford private charges.
Last week the British Dental Association said NHS dentistry was in a “precarious state”.