Posted: Tue 19th Jul 2022

North Wales MS challenges minister over dentist shortage in the region

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Jul 19th, 2022

North Wales MS Mark Isherwood has challenged the Health Minister over the shortage of NHS dental services across North Wales, highlighting the impact this is having on people who are unable to join a Dental Practice.

Speaking in a meeting of the Welsh Parliament last week, Mr Isherwood said because NHS dental practices in the area have either closed or stopped treating NHS patients, people are being left in pain.

Asking the Health Minister Eluned Morgan MS what she is doing to address the shortage, he quoted constituents who have contacted him.

Speaking in the Chamber, he said: “Before the Pandemic, constituents were contacting me about the lack of NHS dentists in Arfon.

“As one stated in 2019: ‘Both my daughter and myself have been without a dentist now for well over a year. Please, is there anything to you can do resolve this problem, regarding the lack of NHS dentists in Bangor and further afield’.

“I wrote to you last August on behalf of a constituent who stated ‘I am writing to draw your attention to the drastic lack of NHS dentistry in North West Wales. Over the last few years I have been a member of 4 different dental practices all in or around my home in the City of Bangor. All 4 have either closed or stopped treating NHS patients’.

“In your reply, you stated ‘Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are well advanced in their plans to establish a new North Wales Dental Academy in Bangor which will provide an opportunity for the Health Board to significantly increase dental provision improving access to NHS dental services in North Wales’, and that you were ‘making good progress with the recovery of dental services’.

“But half a year on, the Leader of the Opposition raised with the First Minister the case of a teacher in Bangor who found it impossible to find a new NHS Dentist when his current Dentist stopped carrying out NHS treatments and was told that there was a minimum two-year NHS waiting list.

“People are in pain now. It’s great that relief is coming down the road, but what are you doing about it for the people who need it now?”

In her response the Minister referred to the Welsh Government’s new dental contract, stating: ” I’m spending a heck of a lot of time on this, I’ve got to tell you. We have a new chief dental officer, and I think he’s really trying to grasp the situation, and he understands the severity of the situation. It’s not a situation that’s unique to Wales, it’s an issue that is a challenge across the whole of the United Kingdom.

“We are actually further ahead than they are in England in terms of the new contract and we hope that that will provide 112,000 new opportunities for patient access, and I think that will be significant.

“In North Wales, in terms of the contract, 96 per cent of the practices have signed up to that new contract. So, it will be a change in the way that dentists approach this issue, but we do hope that that will make a difference. And, of course, we’re really focused now also on training up more dental therapists and that’s what the Bangor academy is all about.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Isherwood said: “Although the Minister referred to the Welsh Government’s new Dental Contract, this is the same new Dental Contract I referred to when questioning her in the Chamber in March, when I highlighted concerns raised by the British Dental Association that this reduced focus on regular check-ups, forced dentists to choose between old and new patients, and funded dentists by 15 per cent less than six years ago.”

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