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Toothless in Suffolk campaign group launches national hub as it announces six demands of the Government





A campaign group calling for improvements to dental provision in Suffolk has launched a national 'hub' as it announces six demands of the Government.

Toothless in Suffolk, which formed amid an ongoing shortage of NHS dental provision, announced they would be launching their 'Toothless in England' network hub yesterday.

The hub will be a focal point for campaign groups across the country, sharing news and events, as well as providing an advice centre for those wishing to start up a local campaign.

A Suffolk campaign group calling for improvements to dental provision in the county have launched a national hub and listed six demands of the Government.
A Suffolk campaign group calling for improvements to dental provision in the county have launched a national hub and listed six demands of the Government.

As part of the launch, Toothless in England has also listed six demands of the Government, which are: An NHS dentist for everyone; reforms to the NHS dental contract that will encourage dentists to provide NHS treatments; revenue to cover the 50 per cent of the population that are unfunded by the government; NHS dental treatments to be free at the point of use; people to be prioritised before shareholder dividend - no more privatisation and an end to the two-tier system - hygienists, routine check-ups and preventative treatments must be a core NHS function.

Steve Marsling, of Toothless in Suffolk, said: "An NHS dentist for everyone, has been the campaign’s slogan from day one.

"We have seen support from all corners of the profession, including The British Dental Association.

Toothless in England's six demands of the Government. Picture: Toothless in England. (52890129)
Toothless in England's six demands of the Government. Picture: Toothless in England. (52890129)

"But it doesn’t just stop at that, which is why we have developed a list of six demands which you would be hard pressed to argue against if you genuinely had the health of the public at heart.

"Each one of them is critical to creating a better and healthier society."

News of the demands and creation of a national campaign hub has reached Eddie Crouch, chair of The British Dental Association, who said the crisis facing dentistry 'predates this pandemic'.

“A core part of our NHS has been left to run on empty, underfunded, overstretched and millions of patients are now seeing the results," he said.

Toothless in Suffolk march in Bury St Edmunds last month. Picture: Mark Westley.
Toothless in Suffolk march in Bury St Edmunds last month. Picture: Mark Westley.

“That Toothless in England even needs to exist is a testament to failure by successive governments.

"Access problems are not inevitable, and we will work with them to secure a better deal for patients across the country."

Mark Jones, of Toothless in Suffolk, said: "Patient’s hopes of change were dashed when NHS dentistry was omitted from the recent Budget – there was nothing new in terms of funding.

Mark Jones, of Toothless in Suffolk, at the march in Bury St Edmunds last month. Picture: Mark Westley.
Mark Jones, of Toothless in Suffolk, at the march in Bury St Edmunds last month. Picture: Mark Westley.

"When the government says it’s ‘Levelling up’ across the country, and in the next breath offers nothing new to tackle long overdue reform of NHS dental provision, it demonstrates to everyone that what they say and what they do are two totally different things."

Toothless in Suffolk took to the streets of Bury St Edmunds last month with over 150 protesters joining the march and rally. A short film containing video footage of the march has been made to promote the campaign.

Councillor Darren Turner. Picture: Mark Westley.
Councillor Darren Turner. Picture: Mark Westley.

Darren Turner, of Toothless in Suffolk and heading up the campaign in Bury, said: "The film captures the spirit of the campaign perfectly.

"Children, their parents, the young and elderly came together on the day to say that they've had enough of being unable to access dental treatments on the NHS.

"A big thank you goes to Jeremy Corbyn's Peace and Justice Project who put the film together on their own initiative and offered it to us.

"We're delighted with it. It will hopefully encourage others to get involved and support our campaign."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Dental practices have been able to deliver their full range of face-to-face care since last June and thanks to their hard work, urgent care is back to pre-pandemic levels.

“We continue to work closely with the NHS to allow more patients to be seen, prioritising urgent and vulnerable patients and children, while minimising the risk of infection for staff and patients.

"We are also supporting the most vulnerable by providing exemptions from dental charges for certain groups.”

The spokesperson added the pandemic had seen dentistry provision 'greatly reduced' due to the need to protect staff and patients from coronavirus and in the third quarter this year, NHS England has asked dental practices to deliver as 'much activity as they safely can' prioritising those with urgent need and children.

They also said 700 urgent dental centres remain in place to support the provision of face-to-face care and anyone concerned about access to treatment should contacted NHS England or contact NHS 111.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here.

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