Friday, 9 April 2010

Reading West dentistry in election spotlight Clear Green Water

The Conservatives' Shadow Health Secretary visited Reading today and called for better dentistry. One pictures him examining the state of peoples teeth at the train station.

Anyway, Andrew Lansley said dentists should be encouraged to take on more patients.
Labour's Naz Sarkar said he would scrutinise dentistry in the area to make sure no-one was missing out. The Liberal Democrats' Daisy Benson said tackling tooth decay in children was vital. The Green Party said it would bring back free dentistry.

Is it just me or did we just gain some clear green water between the Greens and the rest?

Lansley said: "Our candidate here Alok Sharma in Reading has been asking people through surveys and visits about some of their health issues. "It has been made clear that access to dentistry is one of the things people in Reading West are particularly concerned about.
"We are very aware that if we get the right kind of relationship with a dentist where we focus on good dental health and prevention... we can end up with dentists being able to look after more people."

Labour's Mr Sarkar said his party must not get "complacent" over the issue. "I don't think dental services are that bad here. Most people are catered for well, but there are pockets that we need to look at." He said if he won the seat he would assess all dental services in Reading West to make sure "everybody has access to local services regardless if they are rich or poor".

The Lib Dems' Daisy Benson said she was more concerned about tooth decay among children in the area rather than a lack of spaces. She said: "When I have put the question to the authorities they say there there are enough dentists and places for NHS patients. "But they need to work much more closely with the council to advertise properly and help people get to see these dentists."

Adrian Windisch, from the Green Party, said: "The idea of the NHS was that all dental health would be free, but that is not the case. "We would bring back free dentists for all by saving money on scrapping things like nuclear weapons."

The candidates standing for election so far in Reading West are:
Naz Sarkar - Labour,
Alok Sharma - Conservatives,
Daisy Benson - Liberal Democrats,
Adrian Windisch - Green and
Bruce Hay - UKIP.

Darren Johnson, Green parliamentary candidate for Lewisham Deptford, unveiled his party's plans for dental health this week. "Many people in Lewisham struggle to find an NHS dentist, and those that are lucky enough to be registered often struggle to afford the charges. I believe in the founding principles of the NHS, and that includes free access to an NHS dentist for everyone who wants it.

The Greens would guarantee free basic dental care available to all, and would focus on proper education for parents and children on how to look after their teeth, rather than relying on fluoridation of tap water. It's the right policy for Lewisham, especially for people with young families, and I'm proud to support it."

The Green Party's dental health policy, in summary:

1. Currently, only half the UK population is provided with free dental healthcare. NHS dentistry charges are a regressive tax: they hit the poor hardest and prevent many from accessing dental care.

2. Access to dentists should not depend on where you live. But getting access to an NHS dentist is difficult and there is wide variation across the country:

* Between 55% and 60% of NHS practices are not taking new NHS patients.
* Some Primary Care Trusts have no NHS dentists taking on new patients.

Most areas have around 55 dentists per 100,000 people. But some have as few as 25, while others have over 100.

3. Less than half of the UK adult population and only around two thirds of children are visiting NHS dentists. The percentage of children who have visited NHS dentists within the previous 24 months has fallen in recent years - a worrying sign.

4. Some areas have opted for the addition of fluoridation chemicals to tap water in a bid improve dental health. The Green Party says:
· The use of fluoridated water to improve dental health is not a viable solution - it's more like "sticking plaster with side effects".
· Any (slight) benefit from fluoride in drinking water has to be weighed against the increased risk of osteosarcoma and dental fluorosis.
· Mass medication may breach the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine - it's unethical to medicate people without their consent.
· The use of fluoridation demonstrates a failure to tackle the underlying problems of dental health provision.

5. The Green Party wants:
· Free basic dental care available to all.
· Everyone to have access to an NHS dentist if they want one.
· An end to fluoridation of our tap water.
· A comprehensive dental health strategy including proper education for children and their parents.

6. Assuming that some people will wish to remain private, to provide free dental care to 75% of the population would only cost the NHS an extra £1.8 billion a year.

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