Shropshire Star

Labour vows to ‘put a smile back on kids’ faces’ with child dentistry plans

Sir Keir Starmer will outline the part’s Child Health Action Plan during a visit to the North East on Tuesday.

Dental treatment

The Labour Party will vow to create an extra 100,000 urgent dental appointments for children in a bid to clear backlogs in England.

The party’s Child Health Action Plan will also propose the introduction of supervised brushing to bolster the dental health of youngsters.

The additional appointments will be delivered on evenings and weekends, according to the proposals, which will be announced by Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to the North East of England on Tuesday.

A Labour government would also double the number of NHS scanners by investing in new, artificial intelligence-enabled equipment, the party said, as well as reforming the dental contract and bringing in signing on bonuses to recruit dentists to areas in need.

The proposals will cost £109 million a year, Labour said, and will be funded by clamping down on tax dodgers and tightening up the rules on non-domiciled people.

Wes Streeting
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting criticised the Tories over dental health care (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The party claims there will be five million fewer dentistry appointments over the next five years if the Conservatives win the General Election.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting added: “What a tragic indictment on the state of NHS dentistry under the Conservatives, that children are ashamed to speak because of the state of their teeth.

“Labour will provide an extra 100,000 appointments for children a year and supervised toothbrushing for three-to-five year olds, to put a smile back on kids’ faces.”

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, said: “Supervised toothbrushing can help us shift the dial from drilling and filling to actively preventing dental disease.

“There’s nothing ‘nanny state’ about a tried-and-tested policy that can save children pain and our NHS a fortune.”

It comes after data published by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) in February revealed thousands of children were admitted to hospital with tooth decay last year.

There were 47,581 tooth extractions in NHS hospitals in England for patients aged 0 to 19, with some 66% – or 31,165 – down to a primary diagnosis of tooth decay, up 17% from the previous 12 months.

Tooth decay remains the most common reason for youngsters aged five to nine being admitted to hospital.

Hospital admissions for childhood tooth extractions cost NHS hospitals £64.3 million last year, with decay-related extractions costing £40.7 million.

As well as children’s dentistry, Labour will also aim to provide extra hospital appointments, scans and operations for youngsters.

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.

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