Further demonstration of party’s commitment to a truly universal public NHS – and the UK’s health
Labour in government will restore free dental check-ups for every citizen, including important checks for oral cancers.
The party’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth is to announce plans to provide free NHS dental check-ups for everyone in England.
Scrapping ‘band one’ charges will give everyone a free ‘dental MOT’ with their dentist, including checks for oral cancers, while also taking pressure off GPs and hospitals.
The measures, which the British Dental Association have estimated will cost £450m per year, are part of Labour’s plans to focus on prevention and provide a truly universal NHS and moving towards providing dental services free at the point of use.
Labour’s full pledge on NHS England funding will be laid out in the party’s forthcoming fully-costed manifesto and this funding will come in addition to the £26bn announced by Labour earlier this week.
Charges put people off from going to their dentist, and actively undermine prevention – nearly one in five patients delay going to the dentist because of cost.
There are many reports of people resorting to so called ‘DIY dentistry’, buying cheap kits off of the internet, including scalers and Temparin Max for makeshift fillings and procedures, often resulting in huge complications.
The current system also puts pressure on the wider NHS. Around 380,000 patients with toothache are choosing to head to their GPs who cannot provide dental treatment, costing the NHS over £20 million a year. Around 135,000 patients per year are also estimated to attend A&E units with dental problems, at a cost of £18 million.
Today’s measures are also aimed at improving children’s oral health. More than 100 children a day have rotting teeth removed in hospital, when nine in ten cases could have been prevented. Tooth decay remains the leading reason for hospitals admissions among 5 to 9 year olds, more than double the rate for tonsillitis.
“Oral cancers currently claim more lives than testicular and cervical cancers combined“
Mobile dental clinics, run by charities usually seen operating in developing countries, have set up clinics in towns in England to provide emergency dental care for people who cannot afford treatment.
Dentists are often first health professions to detect signs of oral cancers. Given these cancers currently claim more lives than testicular and cervical cancers combined – and are killing twice as many as those killed in car accidents in England, this policy could play a key role in screening and early detection.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said:
Over half of adults and 40% of children haven’t been to the dentist in the last year.
If you don’t go to the dentist for check-ups, you end up storing up problems in the long term. Over 100,000 are admitted to hospital every year because of problems with their teeth.
This is the first step towards making all dentistry services free of charge – part of our ambition to deliver free dentistry as part of a truly universally free health service.
Dentists are often the people who detect oral cancers and other serious problems.
We value all our dentists and dental nurses.
It’s shocking that so called ‘DIY Dentistry’ is becoming so common with people resorting to doing their own fillings and seriously risking their teeth deteriorating further.
With 135,000 patients presenting at A&E with dental problems every year, it’s time we put prevention at the heart of our approach to dental health.
People should not be risking their teeth because they can’t afford the care. With Labour, dental check-up fees will be scrapped as we help people live healthier lives.”
Publication note: This information was originally under embargo until 10.30 this evening, but the Times has breached the embargo.
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