Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has defended his party’s plans for supervised teeth brushing lessons for children.
Sir Keir spoke to students studying dentistry at Bury College, Greater Manchester, about the “appalling” state of dentistry in the UK, as well as Labour’s plans.
Critics claim it is an example of the “nanny state” and say it is the role of parents, not teachers or the Government, to ensure children brush their teeth.
Supervised tooth brushing
Labour say, in Government, they would introduce supervised tooth brushing lessons for children aged three to five, as part of the plan for dentistry.
One dental student at Bury told the Labour leader the plans were a “good idea.”
Sir Keir said: “That plan has got three parts; the first is 700,000 urgent NHS appointments, too many people simply can’t get an appointment.
“It also means a plan for dentists where we’ve got dentist deserts, so many people are simply unable to access an NHS dentist.
“But also, supervised tooth cleaning for three to five-year-olds. I was absolutely shocked to learn the statistic that the most common cause of hospital admissions, for six to ten-year-olds is tooth decay, to have their teeth extracted.
“So that’s our plan, its fully funded, with the non-dom tax status being abolished, I want the super-rich to pay their tax in this country and use that money to help with dentistry.
“And some of the students here have been telling me not only what they do but what they think of our plans, and they are very supportive of what we want to do.”
Worst child health outcomes in Europe
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health say the UK has some of the worst child health outcomes in Europe, and child health inequalities continue to widen.
Other aspects of Labour’s child health action plan include introducing a 9pm watershed for junk food ads, banning vape adverts aimed at children, better access to mental health support, cutting waiting times for hospital care for children and making sure child health is a cross-government priority.
Tories claim Labour’s plans are “unfunded promises” which would lead to tax rises and said the longest hospital waiting lists in the UK are in Labour-controlled Wales.