MPs told to ‘stand by their phones’ for update on chronic shortage of NHS dentists in Kirklees

A Government Minister flippantly told MPs to “stand by their phones” when Tracy Brabin asked what was going to be done to end the chronic shortage of NHS dental places available in Kirklees for young people.

The Batley and Spen MP quizzed the Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Steven Brine, in the House of Commons over a target-based system that has led to virtually no NHS dentists being available in the district for those aged nine or under.

Ms Brabin said in the House of Commons: “In Kirklees 29% of under 5s have experience of tooth decay.

“Nationally among 5-9 year olds tooth decay is the most common cause of hospital admission.

“Does the minister agree with me that the system of penalizing dentists for not hitting targets while not paying them if they exceed the targets has led to a situation where there is virtually no NHS dentists available to my young constituents.

“What steps will he take to make more places available?”

The Minister’s vague and dismissive response of more funding being made available by NHS England and asking MPs to “stand by their phones” for news was followed by Tory MP Phillip Davies saying that Ms Brabin was “absolutely right” in her assessment.

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins, who has been campaigning for investment in dentistry since she was elected in 2015, echoed Tracy’s message and said that urgent investment in prevention was needed in her constituency where oral and dental health is at “crisis point”.

National figures show a clear north-south divide in dental health and that the poorest in society are impacted the most.

In the 2016/17 period, 24,911 children had to go to hospital to have their teeth extracted because of decay and this had led to over £50 million a year being wasted on hospital child tooth extractions.

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