Saturday, February 27, 2010

Greens to launch dental health policy for the general election

On Monday 1 March the Green Party will launch a dental health policy which the Greens believe will enjoy widespread public support and boost the party’s hopes of a general election breakthrough.

The Greens are committed to the founding principles of the NHS – including free dental healthcare, which they say could be provided for an extra £1.8 billion a year.

A party spokesperson said today, “£1.8 billion a year is a trifling sum for a huge improvement in Britain’s dental health service. Everyone who wants one should have access to an NHS dentist, and we must end the scandal of British children in the twenty-first century suffering the pain and misery that come with poor teeth.”

The Greens dismiss water fluoridation as a “cheap, tacky, sticking plaster solution with side-effects.” They say that “mass medication of doubtful efficacy and potential side-effects is no substitute for a proper dental healthcare strategy. We need to be teaching new parents how to look after their toddlers’ teeth, and teaching young children from nursery onwards all about how to look after their own teeth properly.

“And in addition, we need everyone to have access to the right professional support, which means guaranteeing free access to an NHS dentist for everyone who wants it.”

A summary of the new briefing to be launched on Monday is below. Full copies of the briefing, and advance copies of the Green Party’s full 2010 general election briefing on health, are available from the press office, 020 7561 0282,  

Summary of:

Fair, free and effective: Green Party proposals for the dental health service

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.

5. 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.

6. 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.
7. 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.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A new Green health policy

Fantastic news just in, the vast majority of amendments to our health policy were passed and we now have a brand new policy to go into the general election with. Thank you to everyone who helped pull this together over the last nine months and who helped get it through on the conference floor.

We have kept our principled stand against the privatisation and marketisation of the NHS and strengthened the role of clinicians, experts and patients in how the NHS is run.

We have gone for a far more evidence based approach to health care, making sure it is the experts that decide which treatments are cost effective for which conditions rather than politicians. We have strengthened the framework for protecting the public with wider regulation to ensure all medicines are safe and all health care practitioners are regulated.

We have got a new model for primary care to prevent the continued privatisation of GP surgeries and to place them into democratic public / patient ownership. This is radical stuff and sets us far apart from the other privatising parties, i.e. Lib Dems, Tories and Labour.

A strong committment to dignity and compassion plus real support for the benefits of breast feeding. Dental care not mass medication by fluoride.