Protestors call for return of NHS dental services

The Toothless in Suffolk protestors gather outside mydentist in Leiston 

The Toothless in Suffolk protestors gather outside mydentist in Leiston - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Dental campaigners renewed their calls for better funding for NHS care at a demonstration to mark the first anniversary since a town's dental practice closed. 

A 20-strong group of protestors from action group Toothless in Suffolk gathered outside the former premises of mydentist in Leiston High Street on Friday to protest that the town had not had a dental practice, either NHS or private, since mydentist shut a year ago. 

Steve Marsling, co-coordinator for the Toothless group, said one of the aims of the demonstration was to highlight the existing NHS contract, which did not incentivise dentists to work from 8am to 8pm. 

Toothless in Suffolk would like the NHS contract to be better paid

Toothless in Suffolk would like the NHS contract to be better paid - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

“The Government has to change the way they pay the NHS contract because the dentists can’t make any money. 

“The protest highlighted that we want NHS services both in Leiston and across the country and that we have been one whole year without NHS dental services. I have paid 45 years of contributions through National Insurance and taxes which are supposed to cover the provision of NHS services,” Mr Marsling added. 

He said he had written to NHS commissioners last week to ask if there had been any discussions to resolve the situation, but he was not aware of any.

Mark Jones, a representative of Toothless in Suffolk, with some of the protestors

Mark Jones, a representative of Toothless in Suffolk, with some of the protestors - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

He also wanted Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey to take action and said she had spoken of her "sympathies" for the campaigners in a letter to him. 

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“The only way we are going to get NHS services back is to pay the dentists a proper rate. We have a cost-of-living crisis and the cost of everything’s going up and private dentistry is unaffordable,” he added. 

In February, plans for new practices in Norwich, King’s Lynn and Lowestoft were announced, but Leiston was set to remain unfilled. 

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