BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 17:32 UK

Reading West dentistry in election spotlight

Naz Sarkar, Alok Sharma and Daisy Benson
Mr Sarkar, Mr Sharma and Ms Benson are running for the Reading West seat

The Conservatives' Shadow Health Secretary has called for better dentistry in Reading.

During a visit to the town, Andrew Lansley said dentists should be encouraged to take on more patients.

Labour's Naz Sarkar said he would scrutinise dentistry in the area to make sure no-one was missing out.

The Liberal Democrats' Daisy Benson said tackling tooth decay in children was vital. The Green Party said it would bring back free dentistry.

NHS Berkshire West said it had opened new surgeries in Newbury, Twyford and Shinfield in the past year.

Reading West is set to become one of this election's highly contested seats.

'Scrap nuclear weapons'

During a visit to a dental surgery the Tories' Mr Lansley said: "Our candidate here Alok Sharma in Reading has been asking people through surveys and visits about some of their health issues.

"It has been made clear that access to dentistry is one of the things people in Reading West are particularly concerned about.

"We are very aware that if we get the right kind of relationship with a dentist where we focus on good dental health and prevention... we can end up with dentists being able to look after more people."

Labour's Mr Sarkar said his party must not get "complacent" over the issue.

Andrew Lansley
The Tories' Andrew Lansley made his comments during a visit to Reading

"I don't think dental services are that bad here. Most people are catered for well, but there are pockets that we need to look at."

He said if he won the seat he would assess all dental services in Reading West to make sure "everybody has access to local services regardless if they are rich or poor".

The Lib Dems' Ms Benson said she was more concerned about tooth decay among children in the area rather than a lack of spaces.

She said: "When I have put the question to the authorities they say there there are enough dentists and places for NHS patients.

"But they need to work much more closely with the council to advertise properly and help people get to see these dentists."

She said the Lib Dems would set up a health body to make local decisions.

Adrian Windisch, from the Green Party, said: "The idea of the NHS was that all dental health would be free, but that is not the case.

"We would bring back free dentists for all by saving money on scrapping things like nuclear weapons."

The candidates standing for election so far in Reading West are: Naz Sarkar - Labour, Alok Sharma - Conservatives, Daisy Benson - Liberal Democrats, Adrian Windisch - Green and Bruce Hay - UKIP.

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