Childhood tooth decay - Steve McCabe MP calls for “explanation” from NHS England

Steve has written to NHS England’s Regional Director for the Midlands and East, Dr Paul Watson, to express his disappointment at the omission of the West Midlands from a list of thirteen high needs areas for oral health improvements.

Steve has been campaigning on the burgeoning issue of childhood tooth decay in Birmingham and has been calling for an early intervention scheme to improve oral health outcomes of children while reducing the financial burden of costly tooth extractions. The announcement of an early intervention scheme being piloted in specific areas in England represents progress, but Steve believes the case for including the West Midlands as part of the pilot scheme has been overlooked by NHS bosses.

 

In Birmingham, almost one in three 5-year-olds suffer from dental disease. This is higher than the national average and makes Birmingham’s children 3.5 times more likely to suffer from tooth decay than their peers in other parts of the UK. Almost half of children in Birmingham have not seen an NHS dentist in the past 12 months and the number of children in Birmingham admitted to hospital for multiple tooth extractions under general anaesthesia has almost doubled in the last few years. Approximately two-thirds of these procedures were due to tooth decay and are costing an already under-resourced NHS a substantial amount of money.

 

Steve McCabe said:

“At the General Election, I pledged to continue fighting for improvements to young people’s dental health in Birmingham where far too many of our young people are being treated for entirely avoidable tooth decay. I’ve continued campaigning in Parliament for an early intervention scheme and although I’m pleased that NHS England has listened and are now planning a new pilot scheme in thirteen high-needs areas, it is outrageous that the West Midlands has not been selected as one of them. This is yet another example of this area being short changed.

 

“I’ve written to NHS England to express my frustration and I’ve asked them for an explanation of the selection process which has led to the dental health of young people in the West Midlands being overlooked. I’m pleased, however, that the implementation of the new “Dental Check by 1”initiative in the West Midlands is making good progress after agreement on funding was recently secured. The cost of childhood tooth decay is increasing, but if uncostly preventative schemes are supported by NHS England, extra money would be available for investment into other services.”

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