Day 3 of the campaign and I welcomed Andrew Lansley, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, and his NHyeS campaign bus to Reading West yesterday morning.
Andrew has been a regular visitor to Reading, emphasising the Conservative Party’s strong commitment and support for our local NHS services. When he came in December I took Andrew to meet staff at Prospect Park Hospital and visit the dementia ward. We also organised a cuppa with many of the local healthcare charities in the area and they appreciated being able to put their views directly to Andrew.
I am fully committed to protecting and improving our local NHS services and recently carried out a local NHS survey to find out the views and health priorities of local people across Reading West. Over 2,000 local people responded to the survey. One of the key findings was that only 52% of respondents were registered with a local NHS dentist, with 64% finding it difficult to register or being unable to register at all.
So yesterday I decided to take Andrew to meet local dentists at the Castle Hill Dental Clinic, which has around 7,500 NHS patients, to hear their views on how we can make NHS dentistry accessible to a lot more people. Andrew and I spent time listening to the local dental practice team and other staff at the surgery.
They pointed out the shortcomings of the Government’s dentistry contracts. Andrew discussed Conservative plans to change NHS dentistry which will give a million more people access to an NHS dentist. He also emphasised that we will ensure that all children are registered with an NHS dentist and there will be a strong focus on preventative care from an early age.
It was a great visit and another opportunity for me to emphasise to local NHS frontline staff that the Conservatives are the party of the NHS and will increase NHS spending in real terms year-on-year as we build a World Class NHS.