Action on NHS Dentists

September 21, 2007 2:56 PM

MP takes fight for local dentist provision to Lib Dem conference

Cheadle MP Mark Hunter today took the fight about the lack of access to the NHS dentistry to the Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton. The Liberal Democrats approved a motion calling for changes to the current NHS dental contracts. The motion passed, aimed to encourage more dentists to remain or join the NHS by moving the the focus of dental targets from emergency to preventative dental treatments based on patient needs, as well as increasing flexibility and investment in the NHS dental service.

During the debate on the motion Mr Hunter spoke about the inability of many local residents to access NHS dentists right across his Cheadle constituency, citing the many examples of local people who had written to him on this matter. He also highlighted local dentists who had contacted him with concerns that they were being driven out of the NHS because of inflexible targets that were impossible to reach.

Speakers from around the country mentioned similar problems of residents waiting for months to access an NHS dentist, or even being told that the only way to get treatment is by waiting for their dental problem to become 'an emergency'. Mr Hunter also cited the statistic supplied by the British Dental Association, that less than 50% of the adult population of Britain are registered with an NHS dentist.

Speaking after the debate, Mr Hunter said: "I have raised this matter with Tony Blair during Prime Minister's Questions some time ago, asking why he had failed to keep his promise that all adults would have access to an NHS dentist, and I will continue to campaign on this issue until the problem in our local area has been resolved. The failure of Government to supply adequate access to NHS dentist, especially a Labour Government with a so commitment commitment to public service, is frankly appalling.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a more patient-focused service, which does not judge dentists on how many fillings they perform, but how well they serve their patients. The Government needs to be doing more to help dentists to stay in the NHS so that residents can access dentists locally and quickly, this new Liberal Democrat policy would do just that."

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