7 February 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Government have left dental services to rot and now think they can rebuild it with a handful of toothpicks
  • 2.2 million people’s work impacted by being stuck on NHS waiting lists
  • Dentist dossier: Five Conservative failures on dental care
  • “More opportunities needed for young people living in rural Wales”- Welsh Lib Dems

Government have left dental services to rot and now think they can rebuild it with a handful of toothpicks

Responding to Health Secretary Victoria Atkins morning interviews on the Government’s new dental plan, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

Seeing a Minister duck and dive on the reality of dental funding cuts will be hard to swallow for millions who have been left waiting for so long under this Government.

The reality is they’ve left our dental services to rot and now think they can rebuild it with a handful of toothpicks.

People are sick and tired of a Conservative government that doesn’t know how to fix yet another crisis of its own making.

2.2 million people’s work impacted by being stuck on NHS waiting lists

Around 2.2 million people are seeing their work impacted by being stuck on waiting lists for NHS treatment, including many going on long-term sick leave or reducing their hours, analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

This is up from 1.41 million people whose work was being affected by waiting for NHS treatment in January 2023. It comes after Rishi Sunak admitted this week he has failed to meet his pledge to bring down NHS waiting lists.

The Liberal Democrats said it showed the Conservative government’s failure to tackle soaring NHS waiting lists was dealing a “hammer blow” to the economy.

The figures are based on the latest Office for National Statistics survey looking at the impact of being on an NHS waiting list, conducted between October 2023 and January 2024. The survey found that over one in four adults report they are waiting for a hospital appointment, test, or to start receiving medical treatment through the NHS.

Among those who said their lives had been impacted by waiting for NHS treatment, 24% said their work had been affected, equivalent to over 2.2 million people across the country. Of these, the survey suggests that around 626,300 (29%) people had reduced their hours, 367,000 (17%) had gone on long-term sick leave and 151,000 (7%) had stopped working to go on illness related benefits.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on Rishi Sunak to implement an urgent plan to bring down waiting lists. This would include cancelling planned real-terms cuts to NHS funding in the Budget, introducing a 24 hour patient advice line to prevent avoidable cancellations and making it easier for patients to travel for treatment.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Rishi Sunak’s broken promise on NHS waiting lists is dealing a hammer blow to the economy and to millions of lives.

People are being left in limbo, stuck on long-term sick leave or having to cut back their hours because they can’t get the treatment they desperately need.

It couldn’t be clearer that to fix the economy, we must fix the NHS and care. The Conservative government needs to take responsibility for this mess, reverse their planned cuts to NHS spending and come up with a proper plan to bring waiting lists down.

Dentist dossier: Five Conservative failures on dental care

Liberal Democrats have published a dentist dossier with five failures from the Government on dental care:

  1. Children not being seen by NHS dentists: Over 4.4 million children in England have not been seen by an NHS dentist for at least a year, shocking figures from the House of Commons Library show.
  2. Ministers’ constituents are suffering: In Health Secretary Victoria Atkins local areas of Lincolnshire, over 65,629 children or almost half had not been seen by an NHS dentist in the last year. 134,448 children haven’t been seen by an NHS dentist in the past year in Rishi Sunak’s local North Yorkshire and Humber region.
  3. DIY Dentistry: A poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats revealed a staggering one in five (21%) people who failed to get an NHS dentist appointment turned to DIY dentistry.
  4. Dental deserts: Over six in ten local areas in England have seen a rise in the number of people per dentist since 2019, an analysis commissioned by the Liberal Democrats from the House of Commons Library shows.
  5. Funding crisis: The Government’s plan to increase the budget by £200m is only half of the underspend on the NHS dentistry budget last year of £400m.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

People with excruciating tooth pain have seen their dental services collapse into a black hole but the government’s announcement is nothing more than a drop in the ocean.

Too little too late does not even begin to describe what the government has proposed. Millions have suffered, some even resorting to pulling their teeth out, as the Government failed to get a grip on this crisis.

People are literally sick to their back teeth of the Government’s record of misery. The government should be ashamed that these half-baked plans simply do not go to the heart of the problem.

“More opportunities needed for young people living in rural Wales”- Welsh Lib Dems

Today in the Senedd, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have raised concerns over the lack of opportunities being made available to young people living in rural Wales.

A recent survey from Aberystwyth University found that four in ten young people in rural Wales expect to be living outside of Wales in five years’ time.

The same survey found that over 40% would prefer to remain living in their home region, but moving away was seen as necessary to achieve their career goals.

The Welsh Lib Dems have called on the Welsh Government to improve employment access for young people by subsidising rural transport.

Commenting, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds MS said:

There is a clear desire from our young people of wanting to stay and develop their careers here in Wales but the opportunities are just not there.

At the same time, we know that skill shortages are acting as a stopper on investment and growth in Wales.

Research from the Federation of Small Businesses found that 80% of small firms struggled to recruit in the past 12 months. While the Institute of Employment Studies found that 42% of employers named “lack of skills” as the main reason why they do not hire young people.

There is a real mismatch between the aspirations of our rural youth and the needs of our local industries and small businesses.

It is critical that the Welsh Government helps foster local skills in our rural areas, opening employment access to young people, so they aren’t forced to look elsewhere to pursue their dream careers.

By exploring the possibility of subsidising transport fares for young people, as we suggested in our recent manifesto, we as a nation could open more opportunities for our young people.

By helping our young people stay in their home regions with their talents for the foreseeable future, we all benefit.

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This entry was posted in News, Press releases and Wales.

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