4 Jun 2019

Free dental care petition with 10,000 signatures heads to Parliament

6:27 pm on 4 June 2019

The Hamilton-based organiser of a petition calling for more free dental care says she hopes it will persuade the government to make the next Budget a true wellbeing one.

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Photo: 123RF

The 10,000 signature petition has been handed to the local MP, Hamilton East MP David Bennett, today and is now on its way to being considered by parliament.

It asks the Ministry of Health to extend free dental care to under 20-year-olds (from under-17) and to offer more free or subsidised care for low income earners.

Dentist Assil Russell, whose charity Revive a Smile is behind the petition, said she was very disappointed last week's wellbeing budget contained nothing for helping with dentistry.

"You can't have good mental health if you have poor oral health, if you are suffering, if you can't smile, if you are in pain," she said.

"It also affects your wellbeing in general. A lot of the people we see have often been to the hospital to get treatment because the infection in their mouth has got so bad.

The government had signalled there would be no major extra funding for dental care this term but she hoped the petition would change their mind, she said.

Mr Bennett (National) will take the petition to Parliament. He said Ms Russell knew what she was talking about and he hoped the government would take the petition seriously.

It will go to the Health select committee which will decide whether to invite submissions.

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