OPINION: The horrifying reality of trying to get an NHS dentist is a warning for Northampton's residents

This week's shocking scenes of hundreds desperately queuing for NHS dental care in Bristol illustrate a crisis that could soon reach Northampton. Police were called to manage the long line outside a newly opened dental practice. As more local dentists stop taking NHS patients, similar scenes of confusion and desperation may unfold in our own community. Urgent solutions are needed to prevent the disturbing situation in Bristol from becoming the new normal across the UK.
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This week's shocking scenes of hundreds of people desperately queuing to sign up for a dentist in Bristol could soon become a reality on our own streets in Northampton.

Due to chronic underfunding by the Conservative government, we too have a dental desert in our town. As more practices stop accepting NHS patients or close altogether, hard-working families face limited, unaffordable options.

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With a large volume of much needed housebuilding taking place across the town, I fear the day scores of Northampton residents queue in the early morning hours, only to be turned away untreated and unable to afford private fees. Neglected oral health can have severe consequences - exacerbating issues like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke down the road. In fact, over 600 people ended up in A&E last year due to dental-related illnesses. This is the real human cost of austerity and 14 years of underinvestment in vital public services.

Mike Reader in DustonMike Reader in Duston
Mike Reader in Duston

Healthcare access should never depend on your income or postcode. We must demand better for Northampton’s residents, all struggling to get basic dental care for them and their loved ones. Empty promises from the Conservatives without adequate funding have left our system at a breaking point. Once again, the Tories have been caught sleeping at the wheel.

I have made returning NHS dentist services to our town as one of my key pledges in this years' general election. As the Labour candidate in Northampton South, I vow to strongly advocate for investments in preventative dental care and health services across all Northampton communities. The time for excuses is over – we must deliver on the NHS’ founding promise of high-quality, universal care. I ask for your support and voice in demanding what we deserve.

Labour's plans are deliverable and fully costed. We know that, with people facing the highest tax burden in over 25 years under the Conservatives, there is no bottomless pit of money. Offering millions of theoretical places would be disingenuous and dangerous. But the plan offered by the Government this week does just that, and has already been described asnot offering hope to millions struggling to access care by dentists.

Instead, we will put an end to this disgrace and will:

  • provide an extra 700,000 urgent dental appointments and reform the NHS dental contract
  • offer incentives for new dentists to work in areas with the greatest need, so that those who need an appointment will be able to get one.
  • introduce supervised toothbrushing in schools for 3-5 year olds, targeted at the areas with highest childhood tooth decay
  • shift the focus to prevention, so that in the long term, everyone who needs NHS dentistry can access it