Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Cost of removing kids' teeth doubles in five years as decay soars
23 January 2024, 06:46 | Updated: 23 January 2024, 09:05
The costs to the NHS of removing kids' teeth has doubled in just over five years as decay soars, shocking stats show.
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NHS hospitals spent a staggering £81 million on removing teeth from children in 2021/22, according to government figures - around £50million for tooth decay alone.
The costs to the taxpayer have soared since 2016/17, when just £36 million was spent on similar extractions.
It comes as Labour warns than one in five five-year-old kids now have untreated tooth decay.
In Yorkshire and the North West, it is a whopping one in four five-year-olds.
The government say the hiked costs are likely due to dentists being closed during the pandemic and increased costs in hospitals.
The cash could have paid for another 2,000 nurses on a salary of around £37,000.
Tooth decay is the most common reason six year olds in England go into hospital.
Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting told LBC: “Under the Tories, across the NHS we’re paying more but getting less.
“Instead of supporting Labour’s plans to prevent tooth decay, the Conservatives choose to waste taxpayers’ money, and put children through unnecessary misery.”
Labour have vowed to bring in supervised toothbrushing for three to five year olds as part of their breakfast clubs in primary schools.
They will today take aim at government wasteful spending – claiming to have found £10billion that could be saved with a more efficient NHS.
That includes £3.5billion on recruitment agencies, £1.7billion on bed-blockers who can’t leave as there’s nowhere for them to go, and £1billion that could be saved through bulk buying equipment, they say.
Mr Streeting will discuss more of his plans to reform the NHS to give better value for money with tech upgrades and more preventative care.
Wes Streeting rubbishes the 'nanny state' critics over Labour's toothbrush training
Speaking to the Institute for Government this morning, the Shadow Health Secretary, will say: “We must do better with the money the public gives to the NHS.
“Labour will reform the health service so it focuses more on preventing ill-health, which will be better for patients and better value for money for taxpayers.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Good oral health is incredibly important and the number of children seen by NHS dentists increased by 800,000 last year.
“We invest £3 billion each year to deliver NHS dentistry and are also taking preventative measures, such as expanding water fluoridation schemes to reduce the number of children experiencing tooth decay.
“We want every adult and child who needs an NHS dentist to get one regardless of where in England they live. We have already taken steps to improve access and incentivise practices to deliver more NHS dental care, and will set out our Dental Recovery Plan in due course.”