Tom Hunt, Conservative MP for Ipswich, last night voted against a motion in the House of Commons to rescue NHS dentistry, despite local patients finding it impossible to see a dentist.

The motion tabled by the Labour Party proposed:

  • 700,000 more urgent dentistry appointments Incentives to recruit dentists to the areas most in need
  • Supervised toothbrushing in schools for three- to five-year-olds 6
  • Reform of the NHS dental contract so everyone who needs a dentist can get one

Labour would fund the plan by abolishing the non-dom tax status, a tax break which allows wealthy people who live and work in Britain to pay their taxes overseas.

The vote came as new figures revealed that, of the 15 dental surgeries who have provided a recent update in Ipswich, none are currently accepting any new adult patients, and only a third accepting children. Despite this crisis, Tom Hunt voted against the motion.

The collapse of NHS dentistry has left millions of patients unable to get an appointment when they need one. Analysis of patient survey data suggests that last year, 4.75 million people were either told there were no appointments available or the practice wasn’t taking on new patients, when they last tried to book an appointment.

Healthwatch England has reported horror stories of people forced to pull their own teeth out, with 1 in 10 Brits claiming to have attempted their own dental work. A recent report from the Nuffield Trust warned that, under the Tories, NHS dentistry “is at its most perilous point in its 75-year history,” and suggested that it may no longer be offered to all patients. The government has launched a pilot in Cornwall where NHS dentistry will only be offered to children and the most vulnerable.

Jack Abbott, Labour and Co-operative parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, said:

“Patients in Ipswich are finding it impossible to see a dentist, with some having to resort to DIY dentistry. Yet when the chance came to do something about it, Tom Hunt voted against providing desperately needed new provision.

“The Conservatives think that people should be happy with the poor service we have today. Another five years of the Conservatives will see NHS dentistry gone for good.

“Labour has a plan to rescue NHS dentistry from this crisis and get patients seen on time again. We will pay for it by abolishing the non-dom tax status, because people who live and work in Britain should pay their taxes here too.”

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