After raising the issue in the House of Commons Dewsbury MP, Paula Sherriff, secured a meeting with NHS England and the Minister of State for Health, Alistair Burt MP, to discuss dental health and provision in Dewsbury.
Paula raised the issues currently facing dental provision in our area, including evidence from Healthwatch showing that dental activity is very low throughout the Dewsbury constituency compared to similar areas. She also raised specific concerns surrounding children’s oral health as statistics show much higher than average extractions and tooth decay in the area.
Representatives from NHS England, who are responsible for commissioning dental services, agreed that the Dewsbury constituency is significantly under-served but that this would be incredibly difficult to resolve without further funding from central Government. Unfortunately the Government Minister was clear that there would be no significant extra funding for dental services in Dewsbury, regardless of extent of the current problems.
Paula managed to secure an agreement from NHS England that existing dental practices could be commissioned in the short term to accept, see and treat new patients who have been unable to source an NHS dentist. The NHS are devising a strategy whereby these patients who have been overlooked can be identified as soon as possible.
It is clear that the NHS is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to help Dewsbury, and to cover provision we have been without, compared with a Government who are happy to acknowledge a problem but then do nothing about it.
Paula will be meeting again with NHS England to discuss the progress of these new initiatives, and will continue to push the Government in Parliament to fulfil the duties they are currently neglecting.