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Something to smile about this Christmas 

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A campaign led by Dursley  GP and Labour Parliamentary candidate, Dr Simon Opher, has led to a threefold increase in emergency NHS dental appointments in the district.

Dr Opher’s campaign aims to provide more emergency NHS Dental appointments by working with local dentists and the Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (ICB).

Dr Opher said: “We are beginning to see real improvements in emergency NHS dentistry in the Stroud district. Provision in our constituency is currently very poor, with patients finding it impossible to register with local dental practices. At the beginning of our campaign, there were only 15 emergency appointments available each day across the whole of Gloucestershire. We have now increased this to 51. This is still nowhere near enough, but with contract variation for dentists being worked on, we expect it to increase greatly.

“Another new service, called dental stabilisation, aims to ensure patients who are not known to a local practice, are able to access care that stabilises their oral health. There will be an additional 132 appointments a week for this service in Gloucestershire,” he continued.

“Local people have told me of grotesque stories of DIY dentistry, people removing their own teeth, as there were no emergency appointments  available. We still have a long way to go but it’s encouraging that our efforts are starting to bear fruit.

“A Labour Government would see this as a priority and provide an extra 700,000 emergency NHS dental appointments.”

As part of the improvements being planned under Dr Opher’s campaign, a scheme set to start in 14 Stroud district primary schools in January will see supervised tooth brushing for children. 

60% of all general anaesthetics for children are for major dental problems that this essential service seeks to prevent. It will start in the most deprived areas, as poor dental health is more common in the less affluent areas of the Stroud district. Health visitors will also review and help teach parents about dental problems for very young children.

Dr Opher added: “This is only the first step in improving NHS dentistry, we are nowhere near where we want to be, but after a decade of neglect, I’m delighted that we are beginning to get NHS Dentistry back on its feet.”

Patients with dental emergencies over Christmas, or at any time, should call 111.

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