MPs call for urgent action to improve dental services as patients resort to DIY treatment

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MPs have called for urgent action to improve access to NHS dental services, as patients across the country resort to DIY treatment.

During a debate led by Labour, several MPs shared stories centred on the struggles of their constituents. Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said that a man had come to her constituent surgery and put a tooth he had extracted himself at home on the table in front of her. Shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, added that a man who had contacted him had spent hours trying to remove a tooth with pliers, enduring agony because they wouldn’t grip the tooth properly.

Paul Blomfield echoed the sentiments of his colleagues, suggesting that patients in his constituency, Sheffield Central, are being advised to join waiting lists of over a year or pay for private care.

Ms Smith accused the government of “overseeing an exodus of dentists” and said that people are being left in an impossible position. Those who can’t afford to see a private dentist are resorting to trying to remove their own teeth at home without proper pain relief using instruments, such as pliers.

Mr Streeting criticised the government for failing to deliver on promises to change and improve the NHS dental contract in response to comments from health minister, Maria Caulfield, who indicated that modifications are imminent.

The health secretary, Sajid Javid, admitted that additional pressures during the pandemic have created challenges for health services, including dentists. Over 11 million people stayed away from GPs and dentists in 2020/2021 and they are now coming forward for treatment, which is creating shortfalls. The government, Mr Javid confirmed, has made £50 million in extra funding available to provide 350,000 more NHS dental appointments.

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