Dental campaigners 'encouraged' by Westminster visit

Toothless in London

Toothless campaigners in London for their meeting with MPs. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Toothless in Suffolk

Campaigners fighting for new dental surgeries in Suffolk were "encouraged" by the progress made during a meeting with MPs at the Houses of Parliament. 

Representatives from Toothless in Suffolk travelled to London today (Thursday) after plans for new practices in Norwich, King’s Lynn and Lowestoft were announced, but Leiston remains unfilled. 

The town has been without a dentist since mydentist closed in April last year and the group has been appealing for the restoration of an NHS outlet. 

They met with Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who was leading a debate at Parliament on the NHS "dental desert".  

Mark Jones, a representative of Toothless in Suffolk, said: “We met with Peter Aldous MP who led today’s debate and were struck by the high level of understanding and some of the solutions to address the dental crisis.

“We were encouraged to see a good number of MPs speak to the debate. Urgent reform of the current NHS dental contract was largely recognised as being a priority.  

“Toothless in England were referenced in the debate by the Father of The House, Sir Peter Bottomley MP, who encouraged dentistry minister Maria Caulfield MP to meet with Toothless in England. We very much look forward to that meeting.” 

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Last week, charity Dentaid provided a mobile surgery at the Waterloo Centre in Leiston to treat people experiencing severe pain because they couldn’t find a dentist. 

At the time, Steve Marsling, co-coordinator of Toothless in Suffolk, said: “We are one of the richest countries in the world and yet we are having to rely on charity services. One day, the Government is talking about levelling up, but this seems like we are levelling down.” 

Tory MPs have also called on the Government to encourage more dentists from overseas to work in the NHS. 

Health minister Maria Caulfield said the Government is "keen to expand dental training" but conceded establishing new dental schools "would not necessarily see changes" for "about four or five years". 

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced the deals for new practices on Wednesday.