‘I feel your pain’: Rishi Sunak on his seven fillings and plans to reform dentistry

In last night’s Sky News Tory leadership debate, Rishi Sunak revealed he has seven fillings after drinking too much Coke and shares his plan to reform NHS dentistry.

Rishi Sunak is one of the remaining two contenders in the Tory leadership race.

In last night’s Sky News debate, he was asked about restoring NHS dentistry by a member of the audience.

‘We need our NHS dentists back’, the audience member said. ‘What can you do? How soon can you do it? I’m running out of teeth.’

‘I understand’

Rishi replied that he understands the need to fund dentistry: ‘I have seven fillings and that’s because I drank an enormous amount of Coke when I was a youngster.

‘So, I feel your pain and we do need good dentistry. The NHS is everyone’s number one public service priority.’

He continued: ‘I grew up in an NHS household, you may have heard on this campaign. My dad was a GP and my mum ran a chemist where I grew up.

‘I spent my time working there so I understand how important especially primary care is.’

‘We have to be bolder’

Rishi revealed he plans to fund NHS dentistry by implementing a fine for missed NHS appointments.

‘If we’re going to get to grips with this and make sure that there is money for NHS dentistry we just have to be bolder about reforming the NHS to get more efficiency out of it.’

‘Money’s not enough,’ he continued. ‘We need to reform things so we can get more efficiency and invest in things like dentistry.

‘I’ll give you one example of something that I’m prepared to do, which is a bit bold, it is a bit radical, and not everyone will love it.

‘That’s tackling missed appointments’

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 Missed appointments

‘We have over ten million missed appointments every year and it’s not just GPs’, Rishi continued.

‘At the same time, we’ve got lots of people sitting there anxiously waiting for treatment.

‘And I’ve said that’s not acceptable.’

Rishi believes we need to be tougher on missed appointments. ‘If people can cancel them in advance properly, we free up all that extra capacity and none of us have had to pay an extra penny in taxes to do that.’

He stated: ‘We believe in an NHS that’s free at the point of use, but its not free at the point of mis-use.

‘When people don’t show up to appointments, they are depriving other people of the treatment they need.

‘You can be compassionate the first time. But at the end of the day, if we all want to cut taxes in this country, if we want to find money to spend on dentistry, we have to be prepared to do things differently.’

He continued: ‘I want to have great healthcare. I want to have great dentistry for you and for my future fillings, but I do want to be able to cut taxes too.’

NHS dental contract

This comes after the government recently announced changes to the NHS dental contract.

The NHS believes that these changes will result in improved access to dental care for patients across the country.

Since Covid-19, many practices have been operating at full capacity, with patients waiting months for an appointment.

Despite the recent changes, some believe they are too little and too late.

The BDA believes the changes will do little to arrest the exodus of dentists from the service, or address the crisis in patient access.

Shawn Charlwood, chair of the BDA’s general dental practice committee, said: ‘These are modest, marginal changes that will not fix the rotten foundations this service is built on.

‘Our patients need ministers to do more than paper over the cracks.

‘These tweaks will do precious little to keep dentists in the NHS or ensure millions get the care they urgently need.’

He continued: ‘The simple fact is not a penny of new investment has been pledged. Government targets will still come before patient care.’

In the last two years, some 3,000 dentists have left NHS dentistry, with many feeling frustrated at the current state of the system.

The BDA believes many more will continue to cut ties with the NHS if little changes.

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