Sandy Martin attacks loss of NHS dentists in 2019 General Election campaign
PUBLISHED: 12:30 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:30 14 November 2019
Ipswich Labour candidate Sandy Martin has hit out after a large dentists' practice in the town centre warned that it was going to stop offering treatment on the NHS.
Parkview Dental Centre in Fonnereau Road has written to patients warning them they will no longer provide NHS treatment from the start of April next year.
Patients can either pay for treatment as needed or sign up to the private health insurance scheme Denplan.
Mr Martin said: "Everybody needs access to a National Health dentist, and I believe every dentist ought to provide NHS dentistry. The Conservative government has not been funding the NHS properly, and that includes dentistry, so I do recognise that many dental surgeries find the money they get from the government does not adequately cover the work that they do.
"Dentists should join with doctors and nurses and other health professionals and campaign for a better deal for our NHS - if I am re-elected I will campaign strongly for NHS dentistry to be fully funded by the government.
"But this Denplan is not the answer - it is not even an insurance system, as the more help you need the more you have to pay. If they can't get an NHS dentist many people will not be able to afford dental treatment - we're at risk of ending up as a toothless society."
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Dr Adam Hunter, practice principal at Parkview Dental Centre, said cuts to NHS dental funding was nothing new.
He said: "We want to do the right thing by our patients, but chronic underfunding has left us in an impossible position.
"Most NHS dentists are contracted to provide a certain amount of activity in a given year. Deep cuts have seen the value of that contract fall by 30% in the last decade, while our running costs have steadily increased.
"We've done all we can to make savings, but the only thing left to compromise on is the quality of the care we provide, and we are not willing to do that. We would encourage patients to contact the NHS Local Area Team and all the candidates running to be our next MP.
"Having been involved in NHS dentistry for 20 years I would like to point out that underfunding has occurred during both Labour and Conservative governments. I'm not sure this serious issue should be used as an electioneering tool by making unrealistic promises to the voters."
British Dental Association Chair Mick Armstrong said: "It's a scandal that so many NHS practices have been left in this position.
"Tooth decay and gum disease are the most prevalent diseases in Britain. Yet we have a service doing more with less, operating on a lower budget than it received a decade ago. Oral health is not an optional extra, but if NHS dentistry is going to have a future it requires urgent support."