Banning queues is not the answer to NHS dentist crisis

This week Greenwich Conservatives warned that the chance of finding an NHS dentist could be even smaller under the Government’s new plans. Already, across Greenwich and Woolwich there are now 6,351 fewer patients signed up to an NHS dentist than there were in 1997 – a 14 per cent fall, and throughout England, there are three and a half million fewer patients signed up to NHS dentists than there were in 1997.

 
Yet the problems now look set to become worse:


• Unpopular contracts being introduced by the Government are encouraging many dentists to quit the NHS and leave for the private sector, increasing the shortage of NHS dentists. An estimated one in five dentists is now planning to leave.


• In some parts of the country, Primary Care Trusts are preventing NHS dentists who switch to private practice from continuing to treat children for free on the NHS.


• Many patients will face higher NHS dental charges under new regulations.


• But… queues to sign up with new NHS dentists are to be banned by the Government. Instead, people will have to make an appointment or register by phone to halt the long queues that have embarrassed Labour.

Conservatives value NHS dentistry. We will provide it with the support and resources it needs to flourish. Under Labour, dentists have been run down and are voting with their feet by leaving the NHS.

We are very concerned that the Government’s new plans will mean that many people will pay more in NHS charges and, worse, more dentists will leave the NHS completely –forcing patients to go private to receive the treatment they need.

 

We must have a system that promotes good oral health and preventative work and which continues to enable dentists to combine NHS and private work.