Desperate patients resorting to DIY dentistry, warns North Wales politcian
Desperate patients in North Wales are resorting to DIY dentistry as access to NHS dental services declines according to Plaid Cymru’s North Wales Senedd Member, Llyr Gruffydd.
Mr Gruffydd drew attention to the escalating problem during a scrutiny session with the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, in Wrexham on Friday.
He shared that a regional survey of over 700 patients has exposed startling instances of self-dentistry and growing concerns about self-medication overdoses.
“The issue of access to NHS dentists and the dramatic rise in patients unable to access any dentistry services across the region has become significant in the past few months,” stated Mr Gruffydd.
“Our office conducted a survey revealing that a quarter of respondents don’t have a dentist at all. Only 43% have an NHS dentist, while 30% are resorting to paying monthly for private dentists.”
He further shared deeply troubling patient testimonials. These include one from a woman who had to resort to buying dental glue on Amazon to fix a dislodged crown, and a nurse who mentioned that her entire family had not seen a dentist in nearly five years.
The nurse pointed out the severe pain, the risk of sepsis, and patients being forced to extract their own teeth due to a lack of available dental services.
“This is a service in crisis,” Mr Gruffydd concluded. “The shortage of dentists and the costs of those available have led to this level of desperation.”
“I believe most patients understand there are multiple factors contributing to this situation – 13 years of Tory austerity have weakened all public services, including the NHS, and we’re now witnessing the impact of that underfunding.”
“Patients also recognise that Labour has an unsatisfactory record on health in north Wales, having imposed contracts on dentists that make it increasingly difficult to maintain NHS dentistry in the region.”
“We need a shift in direction, both in Westminster and Cardiff, if we’re to have an NHS fit for purpose in the coming decade.”
In response, Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, highlighted funding issues within the health board and health service. He affirmed, “The fundamental problem we have is that the Health board and health service don’t fund people working in this area directly.”
“Dental practices are businesses and they have choices to make. We can’t dictate to people working in dentistry that they must work for the NHS.”
Mr Drakeford also pointed towards potential future changes, asserting, “There’s more that we will all need to do in the future.”
“We will have to strike a deal with people who are being trained, where the public essentially funds their training. There must be a contract requiring them to work for the NHS for a specific period once their training concludes.”
With the current crisis, it’s evident that immediate actions are necessary to address these challenges in NHS dental services in North Wales.
Mr Drakeford suggested in closing that a potential solution might be a new dental school in Northern Wales. This could play a role in resolving the challenges in the long term. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com