Steve McCabe and Jon Ashworth meet local dentist to launch Healthy Smiles for Birmingham Campaign

Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, will launch his local campaign – Healthy Smiles for Birmingham – today (27th April), alongside Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth, to end the scandal of escalating child hospital tooth extractions in Birmingham.

While Birmingham has made great progress in the fight against tooth decay over the past few years, almost one in three 5-year-olds in the city still suffer from dental disease. The number of children in Birmingham admitted to hospital for multiple tooth extractions under general anaesthesia has almost doubled in the last 4 years, going from 386 in 2011/12 to 729 in 2014/15. Approximately two thirds of these procedures were due to tooth decay – an almost entirely preventable disease.


Although tooth decay is easily prevented it has emerged as the number one reason why children aged 5 to 9 are admitted to hospital in the UK. The number of children having major surgical removal and multiple decayed teeth extracted in hospitals has increased under successive Conservative-led Governments and is now costing the NHS over £40 million a year.


Healthy Smiles for Birmingham Campaign:

Every year the Birmingham and the Black Country NHS Local Area Team – which commissions dentistry in the area – reclaims millions of pounds from NHS dentists who have not met the activity targets set out in their contracts. Steve McCabe MP is launching a local campaign – Healthy Smiles for Birmingham – at Midlands Smile Centres in his constituency, calling for a proportion of this money to be reinvested into a local oral health improvement programme in the area. A suitably resourced and well-managed preventative programme – similar to those introduced in Scotland (Childsmile) and Wales (Designed to Smile) – would be a positive step towards reducing the number of children in Birmingham who require emergency dental treatment in hospital.


Steve McCabe said:


“It is absolutely scandalous that tooth decay, an almost entirely preventable condition, is the number one reason why children are admitted to hospital. Almost a third of 5-year olds in Birmingham have oral health problems which is higher than the national average and makes Birmingham’s children three and a half times more likely to suffer from tooth decay than their peers in the Jeremy Hunt’s constituency. This level of health inequality in what is supposed to be a National Health Service is simply unacceptable.”


“More must be done to improve childhood oral health, which is why I’m launching the Healthy Smiles for Birmingham campaign, calling for the delivery of a comprehensive educational and early intervention programme across Birmingham. A proportion of unused money, originally invested in dental services across Birmingham and the Black Country, could easily be reinvested into delivering such a programme. If re-elected as MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, I plan on working with local councillors, Birmingham’s Clinical Commissioning Groups, as well as in Parliament, to end the scandal of rocketing child hospital tooth extractions in Birmingham.”


Dr Greg Fickert (Practice Owner) said:


“The government only commissions enough NHS dentistry to cover about 56% of the population. Instead of properly investing into dentistry, the government continues to increase the patients charges for dentistry way above inflation.”


Westminster government should learn from the experience of the Labour government in Wales, which has had a great success with their Designed2Smile scheme, achieving a 12% fall in the number of 5-year-olds affected by decay between 2008 and 2016.”


Jon Ashworth said:


“Successive Conservative-led Governments have presided over a rising incidence and cost of child tooth extractions in hospitals and the oral health outcomes of children across England are appallingly unequal.”


“Local campaigns like this one in Birmingham are a step in the right direction but what we need in England is a national programme similar to the one introduced in Wales by a Labour administration.”

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Steve McCabe

Steve McCabe is the Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, and has been an MP continuously since 1 May 1997.

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