Tooth decay forced 365 patients to A&E at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust last year, as patients across the country find it impossible to get an appointment with an NHS dentist when they need one.
At Stockport NHS Foundation Trust in 2022/23, 305 patients were seen in A&E with a dental abscess, caused by tooth decay, and 60 with dental caries. Across the country last year, 67,000 patients attended emergency departments with tooth decay. Currently, tooth decay is the most common reason for children aged 6-10 to be admitted to hospital.
The number of patients attending A&E with dental decay speaks to the alarming decline of NHS dentistry. Labour’s analysis of patient survey data suggests that 4.75 million people across England were denied an appointment with an NHS dentist in the past two years.
I have met with the British Dental Association (BDA) to discuss the urgent crisis facing NHS dentistry on several occasions, taking part in a BDA roundtable at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool.
I have also written to every dental practice registered with the NHS in Stockport constituency, to gain direct insight into the problems they and their patients are facing. Responses from dentists in Stockport highlighted that years of chronic underfunding and neglect of NHS dentistry by the Government had produced the public health crisis that we are seeing today. They described a worrying rise in the numbers of patients performing ‘DiY’ dentistry due to their inability to get the help they need.
A Labour government has pledged to provide an extra 700,000 urgent dentist appointments and reform the NHS dental contract, as part of a package of measures to rescue NHS dentistry. The plans will cost £111 million a year in total and be funded by abolishing the non-dom tax status, which allows people who live and work in Britain to pay their taxes overseas.