Calls to improve dental care welcome

A year ago, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was urged in Parliament during Prime Minister’s Questions to face head-on the crisis that is crippling NHS dentistry in this country.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, following research undertaken by his party, told the House of Commons: “Tooth decay is the number one reason that children over the age of four end up in hospital.”

Describing the findings as ‘staggering’ he shone a light on Yorkshire’s East Riding where each and every NHS dentist has some 3,000 people on their books – an unsustainable number by any measure.

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Later last year, in July, a report by MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee found that Yorkshire was blighted by the worst so-called dental deserts in the country, so much so that people are now resorting to extracting their own teeth at home.

Now, as we head into spring a year later, right-leaning think tank Onward has issued a fresh warning about the decline in dental care, proposing a ‘liberalisation’ of dentistry in order to create capacity in dentists’ chairs up and down the country.

It urges the Government to press ahead with training as many dental therapists and hygienists as possible – at half the cost per person when compared with a dentist – and to hand these healthcare specialists the mandate to perform routine check-ups and other procedures short of dentistry in order to revive a critical but ailing part of the NHS.

Given previous reserarch has shown Yorkshire’s need for such improvements is most pressing, this newspaper welcomes these further calls for action whilst at the same time praying caution against any potential dilution of the standards of care required.

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