NHS England has a duty to commission primary care dental services to meet local need, including for the most deprived groups. Nationally, access continues to grow with 1.9 million more patients seen between 2010 and 2016. The Starting Well programme, of which I am sure the hon. Lady is aware, will work to improve the oral health of children under the age of five in 13 high- needs areas. The dental contract reform programme is also working to improve access and oral health.
Seven people per day in my constituency are going into A&E because of toothache, and the poorest among us are twice as likely to be hospitalised for dental care. Yet there is no mention of dental care in the “Five Year Forward View”, and funding has fallen by 15% since 2010. Why is the Minister leaving my constituents in pain and overburdening A&E by neglecting dental care?
I am interested to hear the hon. Lady say that, because the January to March 2017 GP patient survey results, which were published in July, show that 97% of those trying to get an NHS dental appointment in the Newcastle Gateshead clinical commissioning group area were successful, compared with the 95% England average.