Tooth decay forced 610 patients to A&E at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital last year

610 people were forced to attend A&E at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital last year due to dental decay, as patients across the country find it impossible to get an appointment with an NHS dentist when needed.

At Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in 2022/23, 450 patients were seen in A&E with a dental abscess caused by tooth decay and 160 with dental caries. Across the country last year, 67,000 patients attended emergency departments with tooth decay.

Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Norwich North, Alice Macdonald, said:

 “Far too many people in Norwich can’t get an NHS dental appointment when they need one – and all too often the result is severe pain and a trip to A&E. Norfolk is a dentistry desert- people here deserve so much better. That’s why Labour will get NHS dentistry back on its feet and why campaigning for better dentistry is a big priority for me. I’ve already been running a survey to find out more about people’s experiences in Norwich North and the results show that people are being let down by a system that simply isn’t working'”

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said:

“I’ve campaigned to end the local dentistry crisis for over two years, including holding Rishi Sunak to account at Prime Minister’s Question Time. The Tories have left people in Norwich and Norfolk in dental agony. Tooth decay rates in Norfolk five-year-olds are among the UK’s worst. Norfolk has one of the lowest numbers of dentists per 10,000 people in England.

“And it’s not getting any better – three new dental services in the region (inc. one in Norwich) set up a year ago to ease the sector’s crisis are already full.  I’ve always said that the dental crisis is part of a much broader health crisis. Ultimately, that results from years of tearing holes in our social support systems. Ever-increasing numbers of people are getting poorer, living in worse housing and becoming less well.

“When you cut social support, it’s ultimately our NHS that bleeds. And if you let dentistry services crumble, people will end up in agony at A&E.”

A Labour government has pledged to provide an extra 700,000 urgent dentist appointments and reform the NHS dental contract as part of measures to rescue NHS dentistry.