An MP has warned Norfolk people's struggles to see NHS dentists will damage his party's chances at the next general election, unless the Conservatives get a grip on the problem.

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon led a debate in Westminster Hall about what he branded the "collapse of NHS dentistry", which has left people unable to get NHS treatment and long queues when surgeries do open up places.

He said: "I do not think the collapse of NHS dentistry, as a phrase, is too extreme when you see what is happening.

"This is going to be a very salient issue in the next general election. If we do not get this right, the opposition party will say 'they have had long enough and have not sorted it out'."

The issue has been repeatedly raised in the House of Commons, with Norwich South MP Clive Lewis raising the issue of army veteran David Spoors, who removed his own teeth, with prime minister Rishi Sunak last week.

Diss Mercury: Norwich South MP Clive LewisNorwich South MP Clive Lewis (Image: Archant)

Mr Bacon said 2006 changes to dental contracts had contributed to the problem, along with difficulties recruiting dentists in places such as Norfolk.

Along with a reform of the dentistry contract, he suggested land could be made available to dentists who commit to work for the NHS for a certain period, on which they could build their own rental homes.

Diss Mercury: Jerome MayhewJerome Mayhew (Image: Jerome Mayhew)

Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew said it was a false economy not to invest in dentistry, as it instead led to people's pain getting so bad they ended up in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's accident and emergency department.

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Diss Mercury: Peter AldousPeter Aldous (Image: Archant)

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: "It is easier for an MP to secure a debate on NHS dentistry in this place than for one of our constituents to see an NHS dentist."

Health minister Neil O'Brien acknowledged problems were "particularly acute" in the East of England.

He said dental contract reforms had begun and the government was working on its dentistry plan.