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Election latest: What the parties are saying this week

Election latest: What the parties are saying this week
By Beth Gault
25 June 2024

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have this week unveiled more details about their dental recovery plans, promising to offer more appointments and funding.

This week, the Labour party shared more of their plans to ‘save NHS dentistry’, including £20,000 ‘golden hellos’ to dentists who spend at least three years working in underserved areas.

It also reiterated its pledge to provide an extra 700,000 urgent dental appointments a year ‘straight away’, and mandate supervised brushing for 3-5 year-olds.

Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: ‘Labour’s Dentistry Rescue Plan will provide 700,000 extra dentistry appointments straight away, and start rebuilding NHS dentistry for the future. The only way to stop the rot and save NHS dentistry is to vote for change with Labour.’

The Liberal Democrats meanwhile have promised £750m in funding to offer more dentist appointments and deliver free check-ups for children.

It said this money would help fund the plans announced in the party’s manifesto earlier this month, including guaranteed access to an NHS dentist for everyone needing urgent and emergency care by ‘fixing the broken dental contract’ and the introduction of an emergency scheme to guarantee access to NHS check-ups for those already eligible for free NHS dental care.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said: ‘Across the country, millions of people are going without basic dental care, with many even turning to pulling their own teeth out due to the lack of services. It is an utterly appalling situation that has to be brought to an end.

‘The Liberal Democrats have an ambitious plan to fix the dental contract and tackle the crisis in dental care.’

The Lib Dems have also this week detailed further plans for the care sector, including calls for a cross-party commission on social care funding to ensure it is ‘sustainable’.

The Conservative party have previously pledged 2.5 million more NHS dentist appointments through a ‘patient premium’ to encourage dentists to take on new patients.

Similar to Labour, it has also promised golden hellos to ensure rural and coastal communities are better served, and reforms to the dental contract to ensure its future sustainability.

It comes as NHS Confederation called for a whole government approach to addressing healthcare in a new report on Improving our Nation’s Health.

It called on the next government to create a new health improvement board to drive this approach, with the tools to drive collaboration and delivery across government, ‘not just behave as a talking shop’.

It said: ‘The Prime Minister should direct HM Treasury (HMT) to review cross-government health-related spending and generate a plan for amending the funding approach to a) improve health outcomes by allocating spending more efficiently; and b) generate wider economic benefits from this improved allocation. This could lead to pilot programmes in parts of the country as proof of concept for this revamped funding, ahead of the next Spending Review.’

The Doctors’ Association UK last week recommended that the next government reallocate ARRS and Pharmacy First money to restore GP core funding.

It called for the party who wins the election on 4 July to invest £3 per month per patient into general practice.

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