More than 4,500 people in Powys are on the waiting list for an NHS dentist, it has been revealed.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by Plaid Cymru MS Cefin Campbell has revealed that 4,599 people in the Powys Teaching Health Board area were on the waiting list. Of these people, 568 of those were children.
Speaking in the Senedd during a statement by the Welsh Government’s Health Minister on dental reform, Mr Campbell, MS for Mid & West Wales cited these figures.
Research last year by the BBC found that not a single dental practice in Mid & West Wales was accepting adult NHS patients, meanwhile a recent report by the Senedd Health and Social Care Committee report on dentistry warning that support cannot be targeted in the right place to tackle the backlog as there is no clear picture of how many people are currently waiting to see an NHS dentist.
Providing a statement on Welsh Government dental reform on Wednesday Health Minister, Eluned Morgan MS outlined actions taken by the government to address the growing crisis – including efforts to enhance dental trainees in rural Wales, and access to NHS dentist for children.
The Minister also highlighted proposals that could future dental trainees to complete their foundation year in dental practices in rural Wales receive a £5,000 salary uplift.
She concluded her statement saying: “Dentistry is one of my top priorities, I want to develop an NHS dental service that is fair for dentists and that meets the needs of the population, one that is based on preventative principles, and provides everybody with an opportunity to take responsibility for their own oral health.”
However, the Welsh Government’s statement was criticised by Plaid Cymru’s Cefin Campbell MS, who suggested the measures outlined did not go far enough in addressing the growing dental emergency.
“In Powys and across the whole of Mid & West Wales, we’re facing a crisis in NHS dental provision," he said.
"There has been a lot of talk recently about a ‘two tier’ dental system in Wales – those on NHS and those reliant on private care. However, it’s increasingly clear a third tier is emerging – those unable to access or afford any dental care at all. This subsequently creates a vicious circle of further problems with oral hygiene and health down the line.
"The Welsh Government needs to accept that private dental care is not an acceptable alternative for many families and needs to urgently review access to NHS dental provision, particularly in rural Wales.”