Calls for action on dentistry waiting times

South Wales West MS Sioned Williams has called on the Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, to take action to reduce dentistry waiting times. 

Plaid Cymru MS Sioned Williams said:

"Many of my constituents who have had an NHS dentist for years are baffled as to why they can't see their dentist, or those who have lost their NHS dentists can't understand why they can't get access to another one. They feel like they've pushed to the back of the queue. I've received so much correspondence on this: a married couple who've been patients at an NHS practice in Neath for over 10 years, last seen by a dentist in 2019. Another constituent from Cimla managed to get on an NHS list of dentists in Port Talbot, because she could no longer afford, given the cost-of-living crisis, the monthly charge of her private dentist. But, because she doesn't have a car, she finds transport there really difficult and costly. 

"Dentists tell us that historic NHS patients are facing these delays for what is classed as non-urgent work because of the consequences of the new metrics of the reformed contract, with its emphasis on accepting new patients. It's vital that current and historic patients, as well as new ones, are seen in a timely manner."

Sioned Williams also met with with dentists working in her local health board, who, the MS explained, "really feel like they’re not being listened to by the Government, and also, there just simply is not enough funding, they say, within the system, to provide the service that the Welsh Government wants." She described the dentistry contracts as "unsustainable" and expectations as being "unrealistic".

The MS also spoke about the need for more training opportunities for prospective dentists in Wales.

Sioned Williams added:

"The dentists I spoke to also underlined quite powerfully how new dental graduates are now opting for private practice, due to the underfunding of NHS dentistry, although it was felt they were largely not clinically ready for this. The dentists felt there should be a requirement to work within the NHS for a minimum number of years, both in order to fulfil need, but also to gain the necessary clinical experience to provide good-quality care.

"Frustration was expressed that more of the limited places at Cardiff are not filled by Welsh students. One local dentist spoke with despair at the fact that none of the several local A* students who had attended work experience sessions with her before applying to Cardiff weren’t even offered interviews.

"We must look at training, exploring the possibility of establishing a new dental school at Swansea University, where the graduate entry medicine course provides a model of the type of approach that could be taken, as well as one in the north of the country."

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