MPs squirm at tale of constituent who tried to pull his own ...

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting had his fellow MPs squirming when he told them about a constituent who reportedly resorted to attempting to extract his own tooth because of NHS dentist waiting times.

Speaking in the commons today in a debate about access to GP services and dentistry, the MP for Ilford North accused the Tories of being "asleep at the wheel for 12 years" when it comes to dentistry, before illustrating the human impact of service issues.

He said: "Let me tell the health secretary about a constituent of my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford. She tells me that this constituent cannot get a dentist appointment anywhere for an unbearable toothache, and that he is in too much pain to sleep through the night.

"When they contacted a dentist, he was told that they would have to wait two years for an appointment. He wrote in an email:'I am in such agony that I took Ibuprofen, drank whisky and tried to pull it out myself with plyers, but they kept slipping off and it was agony.'

"What kind of country have we become when the most common reason for children to go to hospital is to have their teeth extracted? We have 78 children going to hospital every day to have their teeth extracted."

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He continued: "DIY dentistry in one of the richest countries on the planet, and their answer is to blame the patients. They should get real. This is so far from that original promise of the NHS, where care is provided to all who need it, when they need it."

In response, health secretary Sajid Javid started banging on about... the ongoing rail strikes?

"I welcome this chance to come to the House to discuss primary care and dentistry, but I have to say that the audition by the hon. Member for Ilford North did not go very well," he said.

"I hope that he can see the irony—some might even say the hypocrisy—of his sudden interest in access to public services, today of all days. It is thanks to the strikes that he has been so vocal in supporting the fact that people right across the country cannot make their appointments, that GPs and dentists cannot get to work and that patients do not have access to the treatments they desperately need."

But the issue didn't start when railway workers went on strike. A report last year revealed people faced three-year waiting times for dentists and in February the British Dental Association said there was a backlog of 40 million dental appointments.

Across England, the number of NHS dentists fell by nearly 1,000 last year to 23,700. And the number of dental surgeries offering NHS treatment fell from 9,661 in 2014-15 to 8,408 in 2019-20, the Mail reports.

indy100 has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care to comment on this story.

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