We asked the candidates ...


What do you plan to do to address the lack of NHS dentistry on the Island?

Asked on:
May 26, 2024
Published on:
June 8, 2024

They answered ...

Michael Lilley : Liberal Democrats
Referred to website post

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has announced a plan to “end dental deserts,” including an emergency scheme to guarantee children and young mothers free dental check-ups on the NHS.

Analysis by the Party shows that a shocking 4.5 million children in England didn’t see an NHS dentist last year. Tooth decay is the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged between 6 and 10 years, with over 100,000 children admitted to hospital with rotting teeth since 2018. This is a reality for many children on the Island who live in poverty.

  • As with Social Care, I agree that Government must fund dentists appropriately, recognising the delivery costs and implementing schemes that retain dentists within the NHS framework, rather than a change to private service delivery.
  • As former Chair of IW Policy and Scrutiny Committee I had already started working with NHS Dentists at award-winning Denbigh House, the Isle of Wight’s largest NHS Dentist and NHS commissioners (Integrated Care Board) in partnership with IW Council Public Health and Children’s Services to develop a scheme to ensure not only that NHS Dentists survive on the Island but that services are expanded to give all children on the Island access to dental treatment and preventative care. My main aim on this issue is for the current funding formula for dentists to be changed so not only NHS dentists are retained but also that new ones join them. I have shown as an IW Councillor that you can bring people together and find solutions. However, the rates the Government set for NHS dental treatment needs increasing and this would be one of my priorities as an MP.
Vix Lowthion : Green Party
Direct answer

I bet we all have a story to tell about this – the lack of NHS dentists on the Isle of Wight has got increasingly worse and now it seems that NHS access is almost non-existent. Nationally there is a giant hole in provision – but it is particularly acute in more isolated areas such as the island.

And this really matters. Nationally, hospital staff have reported increased incidents of scurvy, sepsis and DIY dentistry – the health of your teeth is not just limited to your mouth. But neither of the two main parties come out of this well: The last Labour government introduced the dental contracts and then the coalition government made huge cuts to NHS dentistry budgets – over a third.

We need new dental contracts agreed. Simply put, dentists must be paid for the full costs of NHS dental treatment, and then it would be viable for them to do NHS work. Green Party prospective MPs have already made this an urgent priority for when they are elected.

Emily Brothers : Labour Party
General website referral

Labour will rescue NHS dentistry by delivering 700,000 emergency dental appointments across the country, supervised toothbrushing in early education and reforming the contract to eliminate dental deserts.

Over 40,000 children in Britain went to hospital to have teeth removed in 2021 and 2022 and tooth decay is the most common reason for children aged 6-10 to be admitted to hospital.

Latest figures indicate 73% of dentists in Isle of Wight East are not accepting new NHS patients. This will have long-term consequences for oral hygiene and more serious health conditions, such as throat cancer and heart disease.

NHS dental access is patchy and sparse across Isle of Wight East. MyDentist in Ryde ended NHS support earlier this year and according to Isle of Wight HealthWatch around five practices stopped NHS treatment in the preceding year.

Travelling to the mainland for NHS treatment is difficult, particularly for older and disabled people. It involves hours of travel time often exacerbated by poor connections or cancellations. The expense isn’t an option for people on low incomes.

The Conservatives yawning failure to drill into the dental crisis to extract solutions has been like pulling teeth. However, Labour’s plan to make our NHS fit for purpose, includes a step-change in dentistry. Labour will:

  • provide an extra 700,000 urgent dental appointments and reform the NHS dental contract;
  • offer incentives for new dentists to work in areas with the greatest need to prioritise appointments;
  • introduce supervised toothbrushing in schools for 3-5 year olds, targeted at the areas with highest childhood tooth decay;
  • shift the focus to prevention, so that in the long term, everyone who needs NHS dentistry can access it.

These changes will be implemented by a Labour government alongside our mission to build an NHS fit for the future.

Answers to this question will be shown on the "Published on" date above.

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