NHS Dental services across Somerset and in particular Bridgwater are in melt down. Labour is blaming Tory neglect. Three Labour councillors give their views.
Abandoned by the Government
Cllr Tim Mander (Bridgwater Westover) says “I finally received that dreaded call “the partners of the practice have decided that they will no longer offer NHS dental services”. The practice I use is Cornerhouse Dental Practice situated on King Square, the heart of the Westover ward, has served me well over the last 10 years but now they have left me and many other patients in the lurch. The reality facing me and others in this situation is you are faced with two options sign up to a dental plan bronze £12 per month; Silver £25 per month or gold £35 per month or pay the private fee of £60 per inspection (as opposed to the NHS fee of £23 which covers inspection; x rays and teeth clean)”. This decision applies from 1st November so therefore less than a months’ notice bearing in mind my next appointment is the 3rd November. The options are limited as it seems like the closest NHS Dental practice is in Minehead which is 25 miles away with no direct bus service. The failure of the Tory government to address this issue is shameful what is happening to those thousands of patients who just cannot afford the private fees, those with children; those on benefits; those struggling with low income? We really have reached a situation where so many have been abandoned by this government left to rot in a system more attune to Victorian health or lack of health care.”
Two Months Waiting
Cllr Liz Marsh (Bridgwater Victoria) added “What on earth has happened to our NHS dentists? Where once it was taken for granted that your children could be enrolled to your NHS Dentist as soon as their first tooth appears, now you’ll be lucky to get one at all! Far too many children of school age are requiring emergency dental treatment now in hospitals whereby numerous teeth are needing to be removed at once and sadly not always their milk teeth because no sort of dentistry, regular or otherwise has been available or affordable. Waiting times are now nearly 2 months and that’s after being forced to go private in order to be seen at all. Not to mention the astronomically high costs unless you are one of the ‘lucky’ ones who are considered for a monthly payment plan. So much for the idea of the NHS being available to all, now it’s very clear just who our Government think should be cared for, practically no-one! There used to be some hope if you were wealthy but now even money isn’t always enough, it helps of course but even the wealthy are feeling the effects. “Just grin and bare it” – just gums and suffer for it more like!”
Cllr Leigh Redman leader of the Labour group on Somerset Council said “People across Somerset are finding it impossible to get an NHS dentist when they need one. The consequences for patients are appalling. What kind of country have the Conservatives allowed us to become, where the most common reason children go to hospital is to have rotting teeth removed? Where people are forced to pull out their own teeth with pliers? DIY dentistry, in one of the richest countries in the world! NHS dentistry is dying a slow death. Dentists are leaving the NHS! Huge parts of the country are dental deserts, across Somerset and in towns like Bridgwater where no practice is taking on NHS patients. That is unacceptable. We need a new government now! A Labour government that will reform NHS dentistry over the long term, so that everyone who needs an NHS dentist can get one. The people in Somerset deserve more than this!”