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Toothless in Suffolk: Activists take to streets to demand better provision of NHS dentistry

ACTIVISTS in Suffolk took to the streets of Bury St Edmunds today to demand better provision of NHS dentistry in the county.

The Toothless in Suffolk campaigners marched through the historic town against increasing privatisation and soaring costs of dental treatment.

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, told the rally: “We shouldn’t have to be here.

“Yet we have seen DIY dentistry like the Victorian times. The government has put tick-boxes above the health of our patients.”

As in much of the rest of the country, people in Suffolk have not been able to access dental care without having to drive miles to find an NHS dentist or paying extortionate private prices. 

Danielle Watts, 41, from Bury St Edmunds, made headlines after pulling out 11 of her own teeth over six years because she wasn’t able to find an NHS dentist and couldn’t afford private care.

Steve Marsling, campaign co-ordinator and chairman of the East Suffolk branch of the Communist Party of Britain, said: “How has it come to this? In ’48 the NHS provided dentists for everyone, free at the point of use. Now we don’t have a dentist at all.

“The capitalists want a slimmed-down service, with private provision for the rest. 

“People are reaching for the bottle to deaden the pain when they pull their own teeth or they’re missing their rent or mortgage to fund a service they’ve already paid for.”

Bury St Edmunds’ Conservative MP Jo Churchill, who has held the seat since 2015, issued a statement on October 8 that was dismissed by the Toothless campaign as “hollow words.”

Mark Jones, campaign co-ordinator and secretary of the East Suffolk branch of the CPB, said: “It was a complete obfuscation of the issue. She was responsible for dentistry for two years and did nothing. 

“She sat on her hands and refused to accept that she could have done something.”

Toothless in Suffolk was founded by CPB members, but Mr Jones said that the campaign is not explicitly tied to party activity. 

“We wanted a broad church, we don’t want to alienate people,” he said. “The Toothless campaign was deliberately set up in a way that is scalable across counties. Our intention is for it to go national.”


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