The Welsh Liberal Democrats have launched their plans to save NHS dentistry in Wales, warning that unless the Welsh Labour Government takes action now NHS dentistry risks going extinct.
The Party have accused Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay of utterly failing to get to grips with the problem, allowing what they believe to be an appalling two-tier system of dentistry in Wales to flourish whereby if you can afford it you go private, but those who can’t are left waiting in agony for months and sometimes years.
Talking to her party Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds outlined that using her influence to fix NHS dentistry is one of her top priorities in the Senedd.
A previous FOI by the Welsh Liberal Democrats showed that over 800 children in Powys were waiting for an NHS dentist while in Cardiff the waiting list for children and adults is over 15,000 people.
Other health boards do not operate centralised waiting lists which the Liberal Democrats state is a problem in itself.
Among the proposed actions laid out in the report, which was produced with industry professionals include:
· Resolving outstanding contract issues as a priority.
· Integrating primary dental care more closely with other NHS primary care, especially to ensure that services are available in remote and rural areas.
· Increasing per-capita spending from the current £47 to match the levels of Scotland (£55) and Northern Ireland (£57)
· Setting targets for Health Boards in terms of numbers of, and waiting times for, appointments, empowering them to use salaried staff to achieve those targets as well as entering into agreements with private sector providers.
· Setting up set up a national waiting list system to ensure that the process of getting an appointment is more efficient, and that fewer appointments are lost.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:
“Dentistry in Wales is in crisis. People who need NHS dental care find it almost impossible to get an appointment – and in many cases can only get one if they go private. Children in particular are missing out on the dental care and support that will set them up for a lifetime of good oral health.
“The Welsh Government isn’t seeing dentistry as a priority, but it’s hugely important to people’s quality of life that they should be able to live without pain or discomfort. And I know from my postbag, and from my day-to-day conversations with residents, that this is an issue that is impacting huge sections of the population.
“In this absence of urgent action from the Welsh Government, we have done their job for them and put forward a comprehensive plan to save NHS dentistry in Wales. It is vital that the Welsh Government now act on our recommendations and save NHS dentistry in Wales before its too late.”