Downing Street is refusing to say whether the super-rich Prime Minister knows what life is like for the millions of normal voters finding it difficult to get dental check-ups
Rishi Sunak is under pressure to come clean over whether he uses an NHS dentist.
Downing Street is refusing to say whether the super-rich PM knows what life is like for the millions of ordinary voters finding it difficult to get check-ups.
More than 12million people were unable to get dental care last year – more than 1 in 4 adults in England. At the same time 90% of dental practices are no longer accepting new NHS adult patients.
The Mirror is campaigning to get dental access for all as millions are unable to get appointments to get their teeth checked.
Last year Mr Sunak said that he was registered with an NHS doctor, but admitted he had used private health in the past. “In the interests of transparency, he has set out that he is registered with an NHS GP, and has always been. He has used private healthcare in the past,” his spokesman said last January.
But Downing Street today repeatedly declined to say if he has an NHS dentist. The PM’s spokesman said: “It’s not something that we would get into about his personal arrangements. It’s a choice for the PM on whether he wants to speak about that or not.”
Mr Sunak has previously made a thing of how he “grew up in an NHS family” with a dad who was GP and a mum who was a pharmacist.
The PM and his wife Akshata Murty are the richest inhabitants of Downing Street in history with an estimated £520milllion fortune, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. Earlier this week he was branded “out of touch” for agreeing to a £1,000 bet on whether deportation flights to Rwanda will get going before the election.
Under a Dental Recovery Plan, dentists are to be offered cash incentives starting from £15 to see patients who haven’t had an appointment in the past two years or longer. Teams will be sent into schools to teach children how to brush their teeth, while new parents will be given advice on looking after baby gums and milk teeth.
Dental vans will be deployed to rural areas, while dentists will be offered £20,000 over three years to move to places where there are shortages. The NHS has said the £200million plan could see up to 2.5million extra appointments offered over the next year.
But experts warned it will not go far enough and accused Mr Sunak of failing to deliver on the pledge he made to “restore” NHS dentistry when he was running to become Tory leader.
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Sign our petition to save NHS dentistry and make it fit for the 21st century
Our 3 demands
Everyone should have access to an NHS dentist
More than 12 million people were unable to access NHS dental care last year – more than 1 in 4 adults in England. At the same time 90% of dental practices are no longer accepting new NHS adult patients. Data from the House of Commons Library showed 40% of children didn’t have their recommended annual check-up last year.
Restore funding for dental services and recruit more NHS dentists
The UK spends the smallest proportion of its heath budget on dental care of any European nation. Government spending on dental services in England was cut by a quarter in real terms between 2010 and 2020. The number of NHS dentists is down by more than 500 to 24,151 since the pandemic.
Change the contracts
A Parliamentary report by the Health Select Committee has branded the current NHS dentists’ contracts as “not fit for purpose” and described the state of the service as “unacceptable in the 21st century”. The system effectively sets quotas on the maximum number of NHS patients a dentist can see as it caps the number of procedures they can perform each year. Dentists also get paid the same for delivering three or 20 fillings, often leaving them out of pocket. The system should be changed so it enables dentists to treat on the basis of patient need.
Have you had to resort to drastic measures because you couldn’t access an NHS dentist? Are you a parent struggling to get an appointment for a child? Email [email protected] or call 0800 282591