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Dental Surgery: Children

Volume 626: debated on Tuesday 4 July 2017

11. What steps he is taking to reduce the number of children admitted to hospital for dental surgery. (900184)

Public Health England leads a wide-ranging programme to improve children’s oral health. Its oral health strategy, which was published last year, showed a marked improvement across the country in the proportion of children with no obvious tooth decay—it rose from 69% in 2008 to over 75% in 2015. NHS England is finalising plans for the “Starting Well” programme, which will operate in 13 high-needs areas to improve the oral health of under-fives.

Prevention and early intervention are crucial, but no NHS dentists are accepting new patients in Dewsbury, which has the second-worst provision in the country. Children in Dewsbury have five times the national average level of tooth decay. I have asked for help on this for two years, but absolutely nothing has been done. Can you tell me why the dental health of children in Dewsbury is so unimportant to this Government?

I will try, Mr Speaker.

NHS England recognises the significant challenges in dentistry in Yorkshire, which was why it ran a pilot scheme from January until the last week of June to improve access to primary care dentistry in the Bradford City, Bradford Districts and North Kirklees CCG areas. The pilot will inform the wider work that the NHS is considering across Yorkshire.

I declare an interest which is probably fairly well known.

The Minister will be aware that the answer is early-years prevention. A huge campaign, which is making progress, is being led by the chief dental officer, for whom I have considerable admiration. Is the Minister prepared to meet me and the chief dental officer to discuss that progress? In advance of that appointment, will he look at the possibility of providing additional funding from the annual dental clawback?

I believe that my hon. Friend is the only dentist in the House, and he still practises occasionally. I would be delighted to meet my hon. and experienced Friend to discuss the issues about dentistry that he raises.