Lack of NHS dentist appointments not good enough, Tory former minister says

The lack of NHS dentist appointments is not good enough, a Conservative former minister told the Commons, as she urged the Government to sort out the situation.

Dame Andrea Jenkyns said her constituents are “desperately” pleading for appointments, with one unable to see a dentist despite suffering from crumbling teeth during her pregnancy.

Health minister Dame Andrea Leadsom said hundreds of thousands of new NHS patients are being seen as a result of the Government’s dentistry recovery plan.

The plan aims to provide patients with the details of which local dentists are accepting new NHS patients at the touch of a button, in addition to paying dentists more for their NHS work.

Dame Andrea Jenkyns
Conservative former minister Dame Andrea Jenkyns said her constituents are ‘desperately’ pleading for appointments (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“Another constituent in agony, desperately pleaded for help to find a dentist. My own son, Clifford, has been waiting two years for a tooth extraction, hundreds of emails I’ve received similar.

“This is simply not good enough. What plans do the Government have to sort out this once and for all?”

The health minister replied: “We know that since all dentists were locked down during Covid, the recovery to access NHS care has not been as fast as we would like, that’s why we announced our dentistry recovery plan.

“Including a new patient premium, which has already seen hundreds of thousands of new NHS patients who’ve not seen a dentist in two years.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins replied: “We modelled down the ambitions so that the figures we were initially provided with were higher than 2.5 million appointments, but that’s because we are focused on delivering this dental recovery plan and not overpromising.

“But the gentleman opposite finds it easy to call our children short and fat, but shies away from welfare reform, calling it shameless and irresponsible.

“He says he is ready to stand up to middle class lefties, but Labour has never put patients first, and condemned the unions who strike.”

Mr Streeting then said: “The chief dental officer says the announcement is nowhere near enough, the British Dental Association says the recovery plan is not worthy of the name, won’t stop the exodus of dentists, and won’t meet the Government’s targets.”

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