Toothless in Suffolk take to the streets

18 October 2021
2 min read
Mark Jones, 'Flossy' the mascot and Eddie Crouch
Mark Jones, 'Flossy' the mascot and Eddie Crouch

Members of the Toothless in Suffolk campaign group took to the streets of Bury St Edmunds recently to demand better provision of NHS dentistry in the county.

The activist’s march was in response to increasing privatisation and rising costs of dental treatment.

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association (BDA), who was present at the rally, said, “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.”

Eddie also shared on twitter, “Sad that patients need to march in the streets to try to secure NHS dental care but happy to support and march alongside the BDA and Toothless in Suffolk”.

Whilst Suffolk is not the only place in the country where people have been struggling to access an NHS dentist, resident of Bury St Edmunds, Danielle Watts, recently made headlines after pulling out 11 of her own teeth because she couldn’t find a dentist and couldn’t afford the alternative – private care. More on this can be found here. 

Newspaper The Morning Star, who reported on the march, spoke to Steve Marsling, campaign co-ordinator and chairman of the East Suffolk branch of the Communist Party of Britain. He said, “How has it come to this? In 1948 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.”

It is also reported that 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”.

The news outlet also spoke to Mark Jones, campaign co-ordinator and secretary of the East Suffolk branch of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB). He 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.”

Mark also explained that the campaign is not explicitly tied to party activity, despite being founded by CPB members.

He added, “We wanted a broad church, we don’t want to alienate people.

“The Toothless campaign was deliberately set up in a way that is scalable across counties. Our intention is for it to go national.”