Sioned Williams today repeated her calls on the Welsh Government to take ‘immediate action’ to tackle what she has described as a dentistry ‘crisis’ in her region of South Wales West and across the country, following the publication of a new report by Swansea Bay Community Health Council.
Patients have had to wait years to see a dentist, with many not having been able to get an appointment at all. The report found that 70% of people feel pressured to seek private dental care in order to get an appointment. Many cannot access NHS dental services, including pregnant women and children. And patients with serious medical issues that require regular check-ups are being denied vital appointments.
One patient said: “My bridge fell out at the beginning of 2020. I am still without it. This affects my confidence. Cannot smile, laugh”. In another case, a man was left to pull his own tooth from his mouth.
Sioned Williams raised the issue this week in the Senedd in a question to the Health Minister, Eluned Morgan.
Speaking at the Senedd, Sioned Williams said:
“Swansea Bay Community Health Council’s new report ‘Accessing NHS dental care - getting to the root of the problem’ paints a damning picture of dental services in the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot areas. It emphasises these issues were present before the pandemic exacerbated them.
“I heard similar accounts from hundreds of my constituents in response to a recent survey I conducted. One patient was told that he had been automatically deregistered as he hadn't been seen in two years - although he'd been shielding for those two years!"
Sioned Williams later added:
“While I welcome the Government’s recently announced plan to improve dental care, I am unconvinced that the contract reform is going to adequately and urgently address all of the concerns reflected in the report, which are replicated all over Wales.
“There needs to be sufficient funding to increase NHS capacity so as to end this unjust postcode lottery and ensure those who cannot afford to pay or who cannot find a NHS dentist receive the care they are entitled to.”