Local MP secures parliamentary debate on scandal of childhood tooth decay

In his latest efforts to highlight the growing issue of childhood tooth decay Steve McCabe MP, Birmingham Selly Oak, has secured a Parliamentary debate to force the government to address this growing problem.

Tooth decay can have a broad and far reaching impact on a child’s wellbeing, affecting their physical health, confidence, mental health and development. Here in Birmingham, 29% of five year olds now suffer with tooth decay which is significantly higher than the national average. Hospital tooth extractions for under 18s have been rising year on year and has almost doubled in the last four years.

Steve launched his Healthy Smiles for Birmingham Campaign in April this year alongside Labour’s shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth to end the scandal of escalating child tooth extractions in Birmingham. Since then the MP has been calling for an early intervention scheme to improve oral health outcomes for children while reducing the financial burden on the NHS of tooth extractions which cost over £50m a year. He is also calling for better oral health education, improved access to children’s dental services and greater efforts to address high levels of sugar consumption.

NHS England recently announced the launch of 13 pilot projects but shockingly, despite ranking amongst the worst in the country for children’s oral health, the West Midlands has not been included. Steve will use his debate to echo his previous calls to include Birmingham in the project.

As part of his debate which will take place on Tuesday 31 October, Steve will be setting out the scale of the problem which last year saw 45,000 children admitted to hospital, mostly for tooth extractions under general anaesthetic, as a result of tooth decay. He will also be discussing the impact this can have on a child’s wellbeing and call for better education, prevention and intervention. His debate has received cross party support as well as the backing of both the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Dental Association.

Last week, Steve met with Ben Cochrane, Director for Dental Services for Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, based at the new Birmingham Dental hospital. The pair discussed the scale of the issue here in Birmingham and what can be done to improve the health outcomes of children and reduce hospital admissions.

Steve McCabe MP said:

“The statistics around childhood tooth decay are truly shocking. Public Health England report that a quarter of all 5 year olds in England have tooth decay, in some parts of the country this rises to more than 50%. It’s absolutely scandalous that tooth decay, an almost entirely preventable condition, is the number one reason why children are admitted to hospital. I’ve been campaigning in Parliament for an early intervention scheme and although I’m pleased that NHS England has listened and are now planning a pilot scheme in what they describe as 13 high need 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.

“Addressing tooth decay is not complicated – we know what works. Education and early intervention can make a real difference. Painful, costly extractions and risky operations for children are not the answer and the prospect of poorer health outcomes across the lifespan should be reason enough to invest in preventative policies to make good childhood oral health something every child in every region of the UK can enjoy.”

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