Posted: Mon 8th Jul 2024

MS calls on Health Minister to ‘get a grip’ on dentistry services in North Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

A member of the Welsh Parliament for North Wales, has called for a comprehensive long-term plan to increase the number of NHS dentists in the region.

Speaking in the Senedd during a debate on dentistry training, Conservative MS Sam Rowlands, who also serves as the Shadow Health Minister, criticised the Welsh Government’s handling of the ongoing shortage of dental services in North Wales.

“We know that dentist provision is such an important part of the healthcare system and is a major part of the preventative agenda,” Mr Rowlands stated. “Dentistry plays a crucial role in reducing larger, more expensive health issues further down the line.”

Mr Rowlands emphasised the importance of dental care for children, noting that early interventions help instil lifelong healthy habits.

“I’m particularly concerned about the issues that we’re building up here in Wales for young people and adults.

Sadly, for the people I represent in North Wales the provision simply isn’t good enough, and we are left with what some describe as ‘dental deserts’ across the region,” he said.

Highlighting the inconsistency in dental care availability, Mr Rowlands pointed out that this situation exacerbates future health problems, ultimately costing taxpayers more.

“I think it’s perfectly reasonable for people paying their taxes to expect to have access to an NHS dentist,” he asserted.

“Too many people are being let down with this most basic of expectations.”

Mr Rowlands referenced the health committee report on dentistry from the previous year, which included several recommendations, such as establishing a dental school in North Wales in partnership with a local university.

He argued that a fully funded and functional dental school in North Wales would significantly bolster the region’s dental workforce, providing much-needed services to patients.

While acknowledging the costs associated with expanding training places, including university clinical placement capacity and quality academic staff, Mr Rowlands argued for a “strong spend-to-save business case.”

He urged the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Eluned Morgan, to pursue this initiative vigorously.

Mr Rowlands concluded by calling for an increase in the number of dentists and support staff alongside traditional dentists. “I would make increasing those numbers a central plank of this Government’s work,” he said.

“Getting a grip on a broad-ranging long-term plan would certainly go a long way to making this happen, so that our constituents can have access to the NHS dentists that they need.”

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