A routine check-up of Labour’s dental claims
Labour has announced it wants to scrap certain dentistry charges if it wins the election, which would make it free to get a check-up and get other basic services. These “band one” charges currently cost £22.70.
Jeremy Corbyn trailed the policy yesterday saying one in five patients delay going to the dentist because of cost, leaving 100,000 people in hospital with preventable problems with their teeth.
The one in five figure is significantly out of date, and it’s misleading to directly link dental costs to 100,000 hospital admissions, as he does.
The one in five claim is what the Adult Dental Health Survey found in late 2009/10. 19% of respondents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland said they had delayed dental treatment at some point in the past because of the cost.
Why such out of date figures? That survey only happens every 10 years, so it means we can’t be certain Labour’s “one in five” figure is still accurate in 2019.
Just over 100,000 hospital admissions in England in 2018/19 were related to tooth decay, and another 17,000 to gum disease. These aren’t necessarily all different people, as one person can have multiple admissions for similar ailments.
It’s misleading for Jeremy Corbyn to connect all these cases directly to people not being able to afford dental care, as he does in his tweet. This isn’t substantiated by the data, which can’t tell us the circumstances behind those admissions to hospital.