Not only did our NHS and health workers save lives and take care of us during the pandemic, but they do this day in, day out, every day. This week of all weeks, on the NHS’s 74th Birthday, we see it with our nurses and doctors, our porters and our carers.
But the Government’s lack of care for the sector is showing. I am speaking to constituents every single week about the lack of NHS dentists’ appointments.
It is now blatantly clear that as a result of the Government lack of investment in the sector, we are seeing waiting times rocket, and services crumble.
In Sunderland Central there are 15 dentists’ surgeries. Only six of these are taking on NHS patients, and even then only if they have been referred from already being registered in another.
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Only three of these dentists are taking on new NHS patients under 18 years old.
Only one of these dentists are accepting new patients.
If constituents had not been to the dentist in over a year, they also face the threat of losing their registration, and falling out the system totally.
This means that if they are desperately in need of treatment, they were then forced to sign-up to private health care, that could easily reach £1000 after a few treatments, with some surgeries demanding subscription costs to stay registered.
This is simply unaffordable for most people, with a prolonged cost-of-living crisis, prices rising constantly and a government sat on their hands.
It is no coincidence that we are facing this situation in a Dental sector that has seen its net spending cut by over a quarter between 2010 and 2020, leading to us being faced with a national backlog of over 43 million NHS dental appointments.
I have written to the Department of Health and Social Care, to convey the conversations I have had with constituents on this issue, but whilst the government blames this on the pandemic, in reality, it is the result of years of cuts in funding.
This can be seen in GP appointments and dentistry, but also, as we approach the Summer, in the waiting times so many of us are experiencing for our passports, for example.